Farm minister vows to defend agriculture at WTO

22nd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

MAINZ, Germany, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - The incoming French farm minister vowed Tuesday to maintain his country's long-standing defence of agriculture issues in tricky negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.

MAINZ, Germany, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - The incoming French farm minister vowed Tuesday to maintain his country's long-standing defence of agriculture issues in tricky negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.

Under former president Jacques Chirac, France fought fiercely against making major concessions at the WTO on opening up Europe's agriculture markets to foreign competition.

"Agriculture makes up one of the elements of a country's sovereignty," Christine Lagarde told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of EU farm ministers in Mainz, central Germany.

"France will stick with and develop the same policy towards agriculture," she said in response to questions on whether she would usher in a break with the past. "There's no question of selling agriculture short in any way."

The current round of WTO talks on trade liberalization have long struggled as members fail to narrow their difference on key issues such as generous support provided by the EU and United States to their farm sectors.

France, Europe's biggest agriculture power, has repeatedly clashed with the European Commission over making further EU concessions on agriculture, arguing that those already on the table go far enough.

"We have made constructive proposals," said Lagarde, stressing that the EU wanted a "balanced agreement".

Lagarde, who French President Nicholas Sarkozy named to her post last week, already has a firm grasp of the highly complex WTO talks because she was previously involved in them as France's trade minister.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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