EU welcomes farm trade liberalisation programme

Associated Press

Guadalajara, May 30

The European Union (EU) gave a cautious welcome to proposals by 20 developing nations (G-20) aimed at lifting a stalemate over agriculture in World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, saying it lacked sufficient details. The proposal of the G-20 group of nations — led by India, South Africa and Brazil — was put forward on Friday and will be debated next week by negotiators at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. Arancha Gonzalez, the spokeswoman for EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy, said it was good to see the developing nations had put forward a paper calling for tariff cuts by developed nations. “However, they did not put forward a formula on how to achieve these cuts,” she said on the sidelines of a EU-Latin America summit in Guadalajara, Mexico. Trade in farm products is central to the success of overall trade liberalisation talks within the World Trade Organisation. It is hoped the current round of trade talks can be completed by the end of 2004. In farm trade, the European Union has said it is willing to dismantle export subsidies and reduce handouts to farmers. Still unresolved is the touchy issue of reducing import duties.