Negotiations are again underway in Geneva. The most recent summary contains optimistic news, as the U.S. has indicated a willingness to accept a lower-than-previously-stated binding on trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.
"US agriculture negotiator Joe Glauber suggested that Washington could accept capping its trade-distorting farm payments at between $13 and 16.4 billion dollars, the range for a potential deal outlined in July by the chair of the WTO agriculture talks."
There is also less encouraging news concerning the congressional constraint:
"An even more formidable obstacle than finding consensus on a Doha tariff and subsidy package might be getting it through the US Congress in the foreseeable future.
House agriculture committee chair Collin Peterson (Democrat-Minnesota) has vowed to oppose deeper farm subsidy cuts barring dramatically expanded market access elsewhere, despite the soaring value of US agricultural exports. The Democratic leadership is loath to risk fragile support in newly-won rural districts by pushing farm reform. Extra cuts to cotton subsidies appear to be an especially hard sell.
(Maybe a WTO agreement requires proportional representation and a parliamentary system in the United States.)
The Financial Times suggests that the current view on much of Capitol Hill is that between the Bush administration's diminished political capital and Democrats' scepticism about economic globalisation, the Doha Round will have to wait until a new administration takes control of the White House in 2009."
That last statement seems a bit of a non sequitur: Put a Democrat in the White House as well as the majority party and the Dems become more enthusiastic about globalization? I don't understand that logic.