Thursday, July 29, 2004

Drone, drone

And so the WTO talks drone on, with the news of the day exactly the same as on previous days.
The EU is covering its back, warning that the talks will fail unless everybody else agrees with them.  It is focusing particularly the US, which is under pressure to cut its subsidies, even though the EU hands out four times amount of aid, none of which it is prepared to reduce.

The US, on the other hand is trying to exempt its farm payments from the talks, leaving the EU’s chief negotiator, Pascal Lamy to making cheerful noises about being "positive" about the latest state of play, despite there being no progress at all.

The less-developed countries – as we must now call them – are bitching about being stitched up (with some justice, as they always are) and the NGOs are consuming forests by the square mile, churning out vacuous press releases to justify their presence to their wealthy donors.

While the smaller players shout loudest, the EU and US delegation are working on the small-print of the draft agreement to make sure they don’t have to cut the subsidies to their farmers after all, mainly by calling them something else.

The dealing goes on in the hotel rooms, restaurants and corridors – and probably the brothels, if there are any in Geneva - with these players juggling for position, which they hope will bring them to conclude a deal on Friday.

And that’s it. My heart goes out to all those journalists – the foot soldiers of history - fortified by nothing more than their expense accounts, who have to hang around the conference centre with nothing at all to report. However – look on the bright side. Only one more day to go.

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