Tight Timetable on Trade Talks
EU and US trade representatives meeting in Paris over the weekend struggled to find agreement on trade issues.
With an end of July deadline looming, farm subsidies are once again the sticking point at the international trade talks between the EU and the US. "There is some convergence on various points. At the same time, I would caution that there is still a considerable way to go," US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said after the talks. The informal meeting was also attended by ministers from Brazil, India and Australia. According to the
Financial Times, trade officials have said that talks could be stalled by France putting pressure on EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy not to show flexibility on agriculture issues. Lamy had offered to end EU export subsidies if the US abolishes export credits on farm goods and if Australia, Canada and New Zealand also reform their agriculture subsidies. A World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in September in Cancun saw talks collapse on this issue after developing countries walked out. The WTO wants an agreement on cutting import tariffs by the end of July - if agreement is not reached this month, this so-called Doha round of trade talks is likely to be delayed considerably. The issue will be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.