Sunday, June 03, 2007

Deadline fever...

The end of political careers seems to be sparking some serious effort to get something done on trade - if for no other reason to add to legacies and detract from the w-a-r when historians get to making notes. For Bush, Blair, and even Angela Merkel the "doable" part of their long and mostly unchanging to-do lists is shrinking.
The four governments are trying to conclude a framework this month so all 150 WTO members can work out a draft by the end of July. The Bush administration wants to use progress on the global talks to persuade Congress to renew the president's trade negotiating authority, said John Weekes, a trade adviser with Sidley Austin in Geneva.

The U.S. said in talks this week that it no longer expects the highest farm tariffs to be slashed by 85 percent, said the WTO's farm-talks facilitator, Crawford Falconer of New Zealand. The U.S. has agreed to scale back that demand to ``a more realistic zone,'' he said May 29.

European politics also favor a deal, as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel try to pull together an agreement before their mandates expire. Blair, who has championed the Doha Round, plans to hand power to Gordon Brown on June 27, and Germany holds the presidency of the EU until the end of June. [More]
So just when everybody and their Senator are calling for farm policy reform, the US gets religion on trade which will also impact the farm bill significantly? Not if our farm lobby can help it.
US farm groups have warned the Bush administration against compromising on farmers' interests as trade negotiators push intensely to broker a new world trade deal under the Doha Round.

The warning came even as the European Union and the United States tried to pave the way for a breakthrough in global trade talks nearing a potentially make-or-break phase. [More]
Ya gotta admire that kind of chtuzpah. Usually a warning contains an explicit "or else this happens" or at least a clear hint of some retaliation.

What exactly are farm groups going to do if a deal is brokered that they find unacceptable? Lobby harder? March more farmers to Washington?

It's not like we've got veto power or even a vote. And with even farm-state Senators working to scale back farm payments, our "bloc vote" doesn't strike me as very threatening.

The concept of special interests "warning" our president is an unfortunate addition in public debate, IMHO.

Besides, if we know one thing now, this president doesn't "warn" well.

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