Europe Sets Its Next Trade Agenda: Rethink Tariffs

In an unexpected move, the intent of which is not clear, the 15-nation European Union (EU) is calling for the elimination of tariffs in international trade. Sir Leon Brittan, now the caretaker trade commissioner, says the EU is ready to put all its tariffs on the table for negotiation in the next round of world trade talks, which could be launched in December. "We will not simply put forward a series of carefully selected tariff sectors for changes," pledges Brittan, who may or may not be the EU's negotiator in a new round of trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. Worth noting, nevertheless, is that tariffs are now relatively less important as barriers to trade than are non-tariff arrangements such as the EU's heavily criticized common-agricultural policy.

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