"Lost Year"

Here’s where Bush’s shortsighted steel tariffs come back to haunt us:

The United States wants to pick up the pieces from failed global trade talks with a “common sense” approach and a nod to some developing nation concerns, the Bush administration’s top trade official said yesterday.

Rich and poor countries fought to a stalemate during World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico, in September, all but ruining hope for new global rules governing trade in farm goods, manufactured goods and services by a year-end deadline.


Ruined hope, despite what could be some fine results:

A “good” agreement, with lower tariffs and reduced agriculture subsidies, would boost world economies by $520 billion and lift some 144 million out of poverty in the next 12 years, according to the World Bank.

And why are talks stalemated? Perhaps because this country, supposedly a bastion of free trade, has indulged in a protectionist scheme for steel, and agriculture subsidies almost big enough to make a French farmer blush.

Lead, and the world will follow. But Bush’s “do as I say, not as I do” approach is hardly leadership.


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