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Europe

France Attacks WTO Proposal

French President Jacques Chirac has attacked a proposal aimed at restarting stalled WTO global trade talks as "unacceptable" because he fears it will harm French farmers.

French President Jacques Chirac has attacked a proposal aimed at restarting stalled World Trade Organization global trade talks as "unacceptable" because he fears it will harm French farmers. The document, produced by WTO trade mediators, is an attempt to kick-start the so-called Doha round of trade talks, which aims to pull down global trade barriers. Talks are scheduled to finish at the end of the year but disputes over agriculture mean that almost no one now thinks this deadline is achievable. "This proposal is profoundly unbalanced to the detriment of the interests of the European Union," Chirac said. He called on the Commission to "do everything to substantially re-balance this text, which is unacceptable in its current form." Brussels had cautiously welcomed the text, saying it was a good starting point for negotiations but that more precision was needed. Because Brussels controls European agricultural policy, France can do little more than lobby the Commission on the issue. French farmers, who fear they will lose their generous subsidy handouts if the Doha round is a success. ( EUobserver.com)

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