CAP is 'red line not to be crossed': Bussereau

13th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 13 (AFP) - The European Union's farm aid system is sacrosanct and must be defended to the hilt at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Hong Kong, French agriculture minister Dominique Bussereau said in an interview published here Tuesday.

PARIS, Dec 13 (AFP) -  The European Union's farm aid system is sacrosanct and must be defended to the hilt at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Hong Kong, French agriculture minister Dominique Bussereau said in an interview published here Tuesday.

"That is the red line which must not be crossed," Bussereau said in comments published in the Aujourd'hui en France daily.

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's task at the WTO summit which starts Tuesday is "simple" he added; to defend the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). "The CAP, the whole CAP and nothing but the CAP."

"If this mandate is not respected, France could use its veto because otherwise tens of thousands of workers in the farming and food sectors would be threatened," he added.

"Commissioner Mandelson has to negotiate in accordance with the mandate handed to him by the European Council. (French Prime Minister) Dominique de Villepin has reminded him of that politely but firmly," said Bussereau.

Mandelson said Monday he would not be offering any new concessions on agriculture to break the deadlock in global trade talks at this week's WTO meeting in Hong Kong.

But he said he hoped the six-day talks could still come up with a package which would pave the way for the sealing of a trade liberalization deal by the end of 2006.

"I come to Hong Kong to do business with my partners and I hope that others have come to do business with me," Mandelson told reporters. "This doesn't mean I will be tabling a new agricultural offer. I don't believe that this is what the round needs now from Europe, even if we had the latitude to do so."

The build-up to the WTO ministerial conference, which opens Tuesday, has seen mounting pressure on the European Union to offer bigger cuts in the huge subsidies it gives to its farmers.

The EU commission has offered agricultural tariff cuts of between 35 and 60 percent, with the overall average levy to be reduced from 22.8 to 12.2 percent.

However key WTO members, including the United States and Brazil, have demanded more.

Mandelson reiterated the EU's stance that efforts to complete the so-called Doha Round of trade negotiations, launched in Qatar in 2001, should not focus solely on agriculture.

Expectations for this week's talks have been gradually scaled down in recent months, with most major players now pushing for a political accord agreeing further talks next year and some kind of deal to help the world's poorest nations.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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