EU tariff cut not enough to thaw ties

Geneva, November 1:

The European Union’s latest offer to cut farm tariffs has failed to break a deadlock among members of the World Trade Organization, who are seeking to hammer out a global trade treaty by December, a senior trade official said Monday.

“We are still drifting toward a rock,” said Crawford Falconer, a New Zealand diplomat who heads the WTO’s agriculture committee. “There is a genuine effort to get the engine restarted but I haven’t heard any engines restarted yet.” On Friday, the E.U. offered to reduce avevage agricultural tariffs by 46 percent, its steepest ever farm tariff cuts. The U.S.

had tabled a new comprehensive offer earlier in the month.

Falconer said the E.U.’s proposal had failed to provide “a basis to move forward.” Instead, key WTO members such as the United States and Brazil criticized the Europeans for not offering sufficiently large tariff cuts during an informal meeting of argricultural negotiators Monday. They also said the E.U.’s proposals for sensitive products such as beef, chicken or sugar were non-transparent and too complicated.

“Convergence is eluding them,” Falconer said, summarizing the meeting.