Thursday, October 05, 2006

EU Moving Past Doha?

Sources: EU pledges more trade deals, calls on Europe to reject protectionism -; EU to shift trade laws to erase some hurdles -

Even as Europe imposes tariffs on Asian shoe imports (see EU imposes long-term tariffs on Asian Shoes –, EU Trade Comissioner Peter Mandelson continues to push for reductions to international trade barriers. Mandelson first insists that there is still some hope for the failed Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations, which could have provided a broad, multilateral reduction to trade barriers. Critics, however, suggest that Mandelsons’ statements are simply rhetoric, and that there is no realistic chance that the Doha talks would be revived.

As an alternative, Mandelson and other EU officials now stress the importance of bilateral and regional free trade agreements. The nature of these agreements is expected to change in response to more sophisticated mechanisms of protectionism. While traditional negotiations often revolved around tariffs and subsidies, future trade negotiations will also emphasize reduction of more subtle barriers to trade. These include regulations, such as a Chinese law requiring foreign banks to have an initial capitalization fifteen times higher than domestic banks, and access to government contracts and protected economic sectors, such as telecommunications.


1. Will the EU’s renewed emphasis on bilateral and regional trade agreements start a trend that could complicate or even fracture world trade agreements?

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