For six years negotiations of a world trade agreement have been an on-again off-again situation. Deadlines have been delayed and pushed back several times during that period as several stumbling blocks have suspending World Trade Organization talks on numerous occasions since the Doha Round began in January of 2002. Progress has been made since talks resumed last July, but there is still a long way to go to reach an agreement. According to former Ag Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter, there is a better than even chance of completing negotiations by the end of 2008 which is the current goal.
"My view is that the cost of failure is so high in a negotiation involving 150 countries, that the negotiators simply have to find a way to ultimately succeed," Yeutter says.
There was a lot of talk about the ramifications that the U.S. Presidential elections could have on the trade talks if an agreement wasn't reached last year. Now we are staring at that scenario, and Yeutter says it will be tough.
"I see considerable motivation to bring the round to a conclusion in 2008," Yeutter says. "It's dangerous to do that during a Presidential election year, but so be it. The negotiators will have to confront that challenge."
Yeutter says any agreement that is reached this year will be toward the end of the year and will likely be taken up by Congress in a lame duck session after the election or early in 2009.