OECD conference postponed

Agence France Presse

Paris, May 10:

A high-level meeting over the reduction and elimination of subsidies to the steel industry to take place later this week at the Organsiation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been postponed because of diverging positions, an OECD official said today.

“Divergences have appeared between the countries on exceptions to the subsidy agreements,” an official at the OECD said, “intensive talks are underway” to try to resolve the problem. Negotiators were to meet tomorrow and Wednesday to discuss steel industry subsidies but the talks were postponed until June 17 and 18, when representatives will have to decide whether to pursue a deal or drop the project. “We’re getting to a key point in the negotiations. A decision will be taken June 17 or 18,” the official said. During the last meeting in December, the OECD person in charge of the talks, Wolfgang Huebner, said he was optimistic an agreement could be found before the summer and a final agreement before the end of 2004. Forty countries are involved in the negotiations, which are aimed at reducing or eliminating all trade-distorting steel subsidies.