EU Trade Chief says WTO Deal Hinges on Industrial Tariff Cuts

Brazil's highest duties would come down by a third from about 35% to 25%.

Developing countries must make "real" cuts in industrial tariffs if critical trade talks are to succeed, the EU warned on July 21, saying that this was a crucial condition. "A limited number of developing countries must accept tariff cuts" on industrial goods as determined by an agreed coefficient, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said.

Mandelson, who is under strong political pressure to harden his stance on industrial issues, said: "They must be real. These cuts must provide some new market access in practice. That is the political bottom line. Nothing else will work for us. Nothing else will close the deal."

Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim, who leads his country's delegation at the WTO talks, said over the weekend that current proposals would oblige Brazil to reduce its customs duties on half its imports. He also said that Developing countries must make "real" cuts in industrial tariffs if critical trade talks here this week are to succeed, the EU warned on July 21, saying that this was a crucial condition. "A limited number of developing countries must accept tariff cuts" on industrial goods as determined by an agreed coefficient, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told delegates.

Mandelson, who is under strong political pressure to harden his stance on industrial issues, said: "They must be real. These cuts must provide some new market access in practice. That is the political bottom line. Nothing else will work for us. Nothing else will close the deal."

Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim, who leads his country's delegation at the WTO talks, said over the weekend that current proposals would oblige Brazil to reduce its customs duties on half its imports. He also said that Brazil's highest duties would come down by a third from about 35% to 25%.

The Doha Development Round of negotiations was launched in November 2001. It has been deadlocked as developed and developing countries show brinkmanship over concessions on issues such as agricultural subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Any draft agreement thrashed out would then have to go before all 152 members of the World Trade Organization.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

TAGS: Trade
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