Attempts to restructure the world trading system were suspended Friday after negotiators failed to end an impasse between the United States and the European Community over reductions in farm subsidies.
Squabbles between Americans and Europeans were so intense some delegates feared worsening relations between the United States and the 12-nation community.The talks had been aimed at modernizing and expanding free-trade rules. Reaching an agreement could have doubled world trade from its current annual $3.8 trillion over the next decade, according to a U.S. estimate.
Lowered tariffs could bring cheaper consumer prices on imported goods. Businesses and Third World farm exporters could benefit from more openings to foreign markets. Proposed new rules could provide better protection against patent and copyright theft.
Some officials held out hope for an eventual accord.
David Woods, spokesman for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, said the 107-nation group will pursue talks at a lower level in Geneva.
The announcement was made after four days of unsuccessful efforts to overcome a dispute between the United
States and the European Community over farm supports.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter said success in the next attempt "is clearly going to require changes in the European position on agriculture. Without a significant change in that area, we cannot bring this exercise to a conclusion."
EC Agriculture Secretary Ray MacSharry, without naming the United States, indirectly accused Washington of pushing early in the weeklong conference for suspension - in effect failure - of the most ambitious attempt ever to revamp the world trading system.
"I think too many people came here hoping to walk away," MacSharry said.
He added that the European Community's position would not change: "We have what we believe to be a very concrete proposal on the table."
Indian Commerce Minister Subramaniam Swamy predicted a break of four to six weeks while an assessment of the situation is made at GATT headquarters in Geneva.