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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Surprise U.S. Move Leaves Telecom Talks in Turmoil

GENEVA -- An 11th-hour move by the United States to scale back its offers in a multibillion-dollar telecommunications trade deal caused uproar in crucial negotiations Monday.

Japan and the European Union accused Washington of jeopardizing the entire talks and giving in to industry pressure.

"It's a deal breaker," said EU negotiator Karl Falkenberg.

A meeting of EU trade ministers and officials convened to try to improve the union's own liberalization offer, was thrown into turmoil.

"This essentially takes the heart out of the negotiations," said EU official Ann-Mary Redmond.

Many other countries have been awaiting the EU offer before deciding whether to improve their own.

The deadline for a landmark deal to open national telephone, fax and mobile services to worldwide competition ends Tuesday midnight. The talks are sponsored by the World Trade Organization.

The agreement would gradually end monopoly domination of many national telephone services which keep prices artificially high.

Potential gains are estimated at $1 trillion over the next 10 years in improved services and equipment and cheaper calls.

The deal was meant to include local, national and international services.

But U.S. negotiators said Monday that Washington wanted to prevent foreign monopoly operators taking advantage of U.S. liberalizations in international services.

In particular, the United States wants to be able to reject license applcations from countries whose telecom markets are considered too closed.