French Trade Minister says trade talks up to US

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

SYDNEY, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - It is up to the United States to make key concessions to revive stalled global trade talks or for nations to take a break in the negotiations, French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said Tuesday.

SYDNEY, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - It is up to the United States to make key concessions to revive stalled global trade talks or for nations to take a break in the negotiations, French Trade Minister Christine Lagarde said Tuesday.

Speaking on a visit to Australia, Lagarde said the European Union had made key concessions in a bid to breath life into the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and it is time for its partners to step up to the plate.

Unless a suitable compromise can be brokered before the July 1 the deadline targeted by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, the talks should be paused to allow a better deal to be made by around 2009, she said.

"We want to see proposals from the other side of the table, notably on the part of the G20 (Group of 20) but especially the United States, on key sectors of interest as this is a negotiation and so you have to give as well as take.

"We really have the feeling that it is the Europeans who take action all the time," she said, referring to concessions, including the 2003 reform of the EU's agricultural policy and its 2005 proposals for reforms of support for exports.

"We are not seeing much of what is going on on the other side. That's a real problem," she said.

WTO talks ground to a halt in July last year and the EU and United States have been unable to agree on the size of cuts in agriculture subsidies and tariffs protecting their farm industries.

In addition, rich and poor countries are at loggerheads over trade in industrial goods and services.

Lagarde, listed as one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes magazine, said it would probably be better to put the Doha round, some of the parameters of which were now outdated, on hold until a better deal can be found, even if it means waiting for another two years.

"My personal view is that, unless we achieve a suitable solution very quickly, it would probably be useful to re-examine the parameters of the negotiations ... giving us time," she said.

All or some elements removed from the Doha round in 2004 should be reincorporated, instead of rushing headlong into an imperfect deal, she suggested.

"Why not try to get a good agreement with a wider field of application, even if it means that only comes in 2009, rather than to seal a deal hastily with outdated parameters," she said.

Largarde was in Australia for talks with Trade Minister Warren Truss and to launch 'French,' a nationwide cultural and trade programme aimed at raising France's profile here.

France is Australia's 14th biggest trading partner, exporting twice as much to Australia as the reverse trade, while the EU is its biggest trade and investment partner.

France and Australia are at odds over whether the EU should make further concession in the Doha negotiations, as EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has suggested, but French officials said Lagarde and Truss privately share a feeling of frustration over Washington's stance.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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