France fears Doha round 'too much to swallow'

18th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 18, 2007 (AFP) - French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she saw little chance of successfully completing the Doha round of WTO trade talks, which were suspended last year.

PARIS, Jan 18, 2007 (AFP) - French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she saw little chance of successfully completing the Doha round of WTO trade talks, which were suspended last year.

"Frankly, I'm not specially optimistic," Lagarde told the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris. "My gut feeling is that there is much too much to swallow."

She said she felt that neither China nor India were willing to make serious efforts to open up their markets, and reiterated the French government's position that Europe had been "very willing and very positive in the way it has made offers".

She added: "In the current state of things, if nothing else moves, there is nothing else to offer and no room to manoeuvre."

The forthcoming French presidential elections in April and May will also make it virtually impossible for France to consider any further offers to reduce EU farm subsidies, which have "strategic value" for Europe, she said.

The World Trade Organisation suspended the Doha round in July last year after negotiators failed to reach agreement after five years of talks.

The round, launched in the Qatari capital in November 2001, is in an impasse as Western and developing countries remain split on issues such as agricultural subsidies and market access.

Next week, about 30 trade ministers are expected to meet on the margins of the Davos Economic Forum to try to unblock the talks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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