EU ready to scrap farm subsidies

Agence France Presse

Killarney, May 10:

The European Union (EU) is ready to eliminate its agriculture export subsidies but only if other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members do the same, European agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler said today. “Our international partners have to make clear that they are ready to fully match the EU on their forms of export support such as export credits, abuse of food aid or state trading enterprises,” Fischler said. Earlier, the Financial Times reported today that the EU is planning to offer to get rid its agricultural export subsidies and soften its demands for new trade rules in an effort to restart stalled WTO trade talks. The EU would make a sign in a letter to the trade ministers of 147-member WTO that it was willing to be more flexible in negoatiations ahead of a key meeting in Paris later in the week. The newspaper reported that the letter showed that the EU was prepared to adopt a more flexible stance on ending agriculture export subsidies and the so-called Singapore issue — trade facilitation, transparency in government procurement, cross-border investment and competition.The letter was to be formally presented today. Saturday the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the majority of EU countries were in favour of scrapping agriculture export subsidies.

The latest round of free-trade negotiations collapsed at a ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico, last September. Delegates of the gobal trade body have been holding a series of crunch meetings to try to agree to a framework by July for negotiating particularly contentious issues such as agriculture subsidies and the Singapore issues. Ministers from about 30 WTO member states are to meet in Paris later this week on the sidelines of a conference of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In an interview with the Financial Times, US trade representative Robert Zoellick said, “Is it a reasonable target to try to get done by the end of July? I believe it’s certainly possible and there is a strategic economic opportunity that would certainly make it worthwhile.”