WASHINGTON (AP) – Presidents and prime ministers could help break a deadlock in global trade negotiations when they meet in Russia next weekend, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said Friday.

That would leave to her and her colleagues the heavy-duty job of working out the details.

“One can never argue with a powerful signal,” Schwab told reporters after a speech to a business group lobbying for approval of a trade deal when asked about the meeting of the Group of 8. “But there’s an awful lot of rolling up one’s sleeves needed at the ministerial level, at our level, to get this done.”

Schwab, who took over as the top U.S. trade official last month, said the ministers have no plans to get together again after their failed talks in Geneva last weekend. But, she said, “none of us would be surprised if we wound up in Geneva at the end of July,” the deadline for the end of the so-called Doha Round, named for the Persian Gulf city where it was proposed more than four years ago.

She said the G-8 leaders would devote one of their sessions to trade and hold a special meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders from developing countries expected July 15-17 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Schwab said last weekend’s talks in Geneva failed because “there never was a sense of energy or buzz that comes when there’s an imminent breakthrough.”

The United States remains ready to negotiate on agricultural subsidies and other aspects of the trade talks if other countries are willing to consider significant cuts in tariffs, she said.

“The goal we have in the next three weeks is to raise everybody’s game, not to define success downward and not to be playing the blame game as a smoke screen for inaction,” Schwab said.

In Geneva, she said, the United States signaled a willingness to make concessions on more than one occasion. Trading partners apparently did not want to hear the offer or to “hear that this willingness is attached to a prerequisite for more and real market access,” she said.

Pascal Lamy, the director of the sponsoring 149-nation World Trade Organization, had warned that last week’s talks were the last realistic chance to agree on lowered barriers for trade and manufactured goods, where disagreement has held up the talks for months.

More than 60 ministers representing better than one-third of the WTO membership had come together after failed discussions and missed deadlines but conceded on Saturday that their efforts had yielded no results.

One disturbing part of the weekend meeting was that some large developing countries, such as India, “are questioning the benefits of open markets,” Schwab said.

“The Brazils, the Chinas and the Indias of this world can and should be expected to participate in these negotiations, including opening their markets,” she said.

The complex talks have stalled as poorer countries demand the 25-nation European Union and the United States offer greater cutbacks in supports for American and European farmers. The United States and the European Union in turn want major developing countries like Brazil and India to allow more foreign competition for their industrial and service sectors.



On the Net:

U.S. Trade Representative: http://www.ustr.gov.

AP-ES-07-07-06 1637EDT


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