US sees world trade deal at risk over customs disaccord
Geneva: The World Trade Organisation is facing a "crisis" because of disagreement -- most notably with India -- over improved customs procedures, the United States said Friday.
"We are deeply disappointed that backsliding on Trade Facilitation has brought the WTO to the brink of crisis," the US ambassador to the world trade body, Michael Froman, said in a statement.
"The current state of play on Trade Facilitation threatens to deal a serious blow to the credibility of the multilateral trading system and to set back the development needs of many countries around the world," he said.
He was referring to a deal on making customs procedures faster and more efficient. A draft version was agreed at a Bali conference in December last year and was meant to be finalised by the end of this month. But it can only come into effect if two-thirds of the WTO`s 160 members ratify it.
India, however, is refusing to ratify the deal, reportedly because it is unhappy with other trade negotiations over farm subsidies and food stocks.
That obstacle has already sparked criticism from the European Union and a group of 25 developed and emerging countries.
The United States said the blockage could threaten wider future talks on global trade -- the so-called "Doha round".
"We will be consulting with other WTO members on appropriate next steps," the US ambassador said.
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