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WTO talks collapse

The Doha round of world trade talks has collapsed in what one former trade chief called the biggest blow to globalization since the end of the Cold War.

An emergency World Trade Organization summit aimed at resuscitating the seven-year long talks broke down in acrimony last night.

Negotiators warned that there was now little or no chance of salvaging the talks, which promised to bring down trade tariffs, pull millions out of poverty and keep food and goods prices under control.

It is the first time a major set of world trade talks has collapsed entirely, and insiders warned that the consequences would be comparatively weaker economic growth and a less globalised world in the coming years.

Although the talks broke down at a summit in Cancun five years ago and were later revived, officials warned that there was now “little or no appetite” to return to the round.

Insiders said the talks had stumbled after the United States, China and India failed to compromise on the size of their agricultural tariffs.

After nine days of emergency talks in Geneva, WTO chief Pascal Lamy broke the news to ministers from the seven biggest trading blocs that the talks had failed.

At the centre of the dispute were so-called “safeguard clauses” which allowed developing nations to slap emergency tariffs on imports if they suddenly jumped to unmanageable levels.

US negotiators apparently balked at Indian and Chinese proposals to trigger these safeguards on their cotton exports.

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