US and German officials expressed hopes for a breakthrough at this month's World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting following a lengthy stalemate in the so-called Doha round of trade talks.
Trade ministers from 30 nations will meet in Geneva
US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and German Economics Minister Michael Glos met Tuesday in Berlin in preparation for the week-long talks to be held beginning July 21 in Geneva. After their meeting, Paulson and Glos expressed hopes that agreement might finally be reached in the long-bogged down trade talks.
The two ministers likewise worried aloud about high world crude oil prices and the consequences for the global economy. Agreement in Geneva would provide a positive signal for the global economy, said Glos after the meeting.
"Not on the backs of German agriculture"
Ministers from the 30 main trading nations will meet to discuss the WTO's so-called Doha round, a deal to further liberalize world trade that has been hung up over the last four years. Developing nations have been seeking greater access for their agricultural goods on markets in the developed world.
Developing nations blame western agricultural subsidies for food shortages
Agricultural subsidies provided to farmers by the United States and the European Union are distorting world food prices, critics from some developing nations claim.
Paulson Tuesday said a deal to further liberalize world trade would help to ease food prices on global markets by reducing trade barriers.
Glos likewise added that high energy prices were affecting food prices. The best way to cheaper oil and gas prices should come from technology that creates independence from oil and natural gas, he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking to farmers in Berlin, made clear Tuesday that German agriculture would not bear the cost of striking such a deal.
"The German government will only agree if we receive a fair and balanced offer," Merkel said. An agreement would not be reached "on the back of German agriculture," she said, adding that European agriculture had made its contribution to the liberalization of world trade.