U.S. Welcomes European Offer To End Farm Subsidies

By Agence France-Presse The United States welcomed May 10 a European Union offer to end agricultural export subsidies, saying it could spur stalled global free-trade negotiations. Washington, D.C., in turn, promised to remove export credits that act as export subsidies and to negotiate new rules to prevent food aid from displacing commercial sales. "We welcome today's announcement that the European Union will, as part of the Doha negotiations, accept that all countries must set an end date for the abolition of agricultural export subsidies," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in a statement. EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said at a meeting of European farm ministers in Glengariff, Ireland, that the commission had proposed scrapping EU agricultural export subsidies. The offer was made on condition that key European trading partners likewise took steps to reduce financial support for exports. Differences over agricultural export subsidies foiled multilateral efforts to tear down global trade barriers, a goal adopted with great fanfare by the World Trade Organization at a ministerial conference in the Qatari capital Doha in November 2001. The trade negotiations were placed on the back burner after the failure of a WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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