EU, U.S., Japan Offer Concessions To Save Trade Talks

The European Union, United States and Japan on Thursday said they were willing to give ground to save global trade talks provided all parties in the negotiations also offered concessions. The three trading superpowers -- which have all faced criticism for resisting moves to remove agricultural trade barriers -- made their commitments separately Sept. 21 on the sidelines of a meeting of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters in Australia.

Carlo Trojan, EU ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Brussels would do all it could to ensure a multilateral trade deal was completed next year although he rated the chance of success 50-50 at best.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab also displayed a willingness to compromise if it would save the WTO Doha Round of negotiations, which was suspended in July amid a bitter EU-U.S. rift on farm subsidies and tariffs. "We've also indicated that our proposal is negotiable, that we are prepared to do even more in terms of cutting domestic support [subsidies] than we have on the table if, and when, there is significantly more market access on the table," she said.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Tokyo would make further sacrifices if the U.S. and Cairns Group members offered deeper cuts.

The Doha Round of talks launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and was supposed to deliver a global agreement on reducing agricultural and industrial trade barriers by 2004 but dragged on until its suspension in July. The Cairns Group's 18 members extended their meeting to include U.S., EU Japanese and WTO officials this week in a bid to revive the dying global trade talks.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

TAGS: Trade
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