U.S. Sees Slow Progress On WTO Farm Talks

By Agence France-Presse The United States and European Union have made little progress in resolving differences on freeing up agricultural trade ahead of a key global trade meeting, a U.S. official said July 24. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier told reporters in a conference call that agriculture remained the major point of contention in a meeting of senior trade officials this week at the World Trade Organization in Geneva. The EU has been under pressure to slash subsidies and reduce barriers to farm products under its Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), with planned reforms called inadequate. Allgeier said the United States and others were pressuring the EU to open its market further to farm products. "The question on everybody's mind is how will the CAP reform translate into negotiations at the WTO," Allgeier said. "People were reminding the EU that there's a market access pillar that is very important." The WTO talks on agriculture are part of the overall Doha Development round of trade talks due to wrap up at the end of 2004. Meanwhile, two members of Congress denounced what they called a "stalemate" in the WTO discussions, saying time is running out. "We must not allow progress to be blocked by intransigence," Reps. Cal Dooley, D-Calif., and John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The National Foreign Trade Council, an association of U.S. businesses, said it too was concerned about the slow pace of talks. "We hope WTO members will avoid outdated mercantilist approaches and demonstrate the ability of the WTO to keep pace with the proliferation of regional agreements through ambitious outcomes within the stated deadline of 2005," said NFTC Vice President Mary Irace. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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