The British government will press the U.S. to agree to a liberalization of shipping services at the next round of world trade negotiations, according to a government minister.
"The Government will press the U.S. strongly to come on board with a meaningful liberalizing offer," junior trade and industry minister Patricia Hewitt said
. However, she conceded that negotiations on maritime transport services could be difficult when the World Trade Organization meets
in Seattle in December. "The powerful U.S. maritime lobby remains strongly opposed to the sector being negotiated at a multilateral level," Hewitt said.
Maritime talks were among the outstanding issues when the WTO was set up in 1995, and were adjourned on the expiry of a June 1996 deadline. Shipping sources say the failure of the maritime talks was caused by U.S. opposition to give up the power to use unilateral countermeasures to counter protectionism, as well as unreadiness in some developing countries and lack of industry enthusiasm.