Lula laments differences with France on subsidies

15th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 15 (AFP) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Friday that "major differences" remained between his country and France on the thorny issue of agricultural subsidies, following a meeting here with French President Jacques Chirac.

PARIS, July 15 (AFP) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Friday that "major differences" remained between his country and France on the thorny issue of agricultural subsidies, following a meeting here with French President Jacques Chirac.

"The major differences (between France and Brazil) are on agricultural subsidies," said Lula during a joint press conference with his French counterpart.

Brazil is at the forefront of a group of emerging market countries demanding that rich countries scrap export subsidies to their farmers.

"We will continue our efforts so that Europe and the United States make concessions" to developing countries, he said.

Europe and the United States reaffirmed an agreement in principle to eliminate agricultural export subsidies at a meeting last week of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations in Scotland. But they did not specify a date to start dismantling their schemes.

The future of agricultural subsidies has been a major stumbling block in the latest round of WTO trade talks that started in 2001.

Trade ministers hope to get the so-called Doha round, which aims to reduce barriers to international commerce to help poorer countries, back on track at a meeting in Hong Kong in December.

Negotiations are currently deadlocked, as the Group of 20 emerging (G20) market countries -- which includes Brazil, China and India -- seek a reduction in government support to farmers in the industrialized world.

In return, rich nations are asking for greater access to the domestic markets of poor countries for their industrial and service products.

Chirac recalled that the European Union had agreed to eliminate agricultural export subsidies if the United States did as well.

"It's not a problem between France and Brazil, but a problem exists between the United States and the rest of the world," he told the press conference.

Lula declined to pass judgement, replying: "It's normal that every country defends its own interests."

The Brazilian President was talking at the end of a three-day official visit to mark the year of Brazil in France, a series of events aimed at raising the profile of Brazil in France.

Five agreements were signed on Friday at the Elysee presidential palace between the two heads of state, including an order from Brazil for 12 Mirage 2000 fighter planes for an undisclosed sum.

Chirac also reiterated his support for Brazil's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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