France happy with EU position at WTO talks

16th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

HONG KONG, Dec 16 (AFP) - France on Friday hailed the defense of the European Union's position on agriculture mounted at WTO talks here by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

HONG KONG, Dec 16 (AFP) - France on Friday hailed the defense of the European Union's position on agriculture mounted at WTO talks here by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

"We are extremely pleased with the position of the commission," French Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau said, adding that the panel had acted "with much courage and firmness."

Before the conference French officials had been sharply critical of Mandelson, accusing him of offering trade concessions considered excessively generous.

France's junior trade minister, Christine Lagarde, said that in World Trade Organization negotiations here since Tuesday, the European Union had come under "heavy pressure" from "odd alliances of Brazilians, Indians and Americans ..."

The EU is being pressed from all sides to offer deeper cuts in its agriculture subsidies and import tariffs but has steadfastly refused to change its position.

Lagarde also criticized the attitude of the Group of 20 developing countries headed by India and Brazil.

These countries, she charged, "who have been asking us non-stop to move on agriculture and who seemed perfectly virtuous are themselves backsliding in everything related to industry and services."

The European Union has been asked to make further concessions on agricultural subsidies and tariffs in exchange for moves by emerging market countries to give greater access to EU services and industrial goods.

The standoff as of late Friday was showing no signs of resolution, prompting fears that the conference could end in discord on Sunday.

Trade ministers have been struggling to find consensus in the Doha Round of trade liberalization talks, which the WTO hopes will lead to a sweeping multilateral accord to take effect at the end of next year.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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