France opposed to Mercosur farm trade talks

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France insisted on Tuesday it remains opposed to agricultural free trade and in particular to an open markets deal between the European Union and Latin America's Mercosur bloc.

"Agriculture is not a bargaining chip. We will go no further with World Trade Organisation talks. We'll go no further on negotiations with Mercosur," Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters at a farm show.

"Europe will not become a dumping ground for South American farm products."

Farm trade has been one of the toughest sticking points in long-running world trade negotiations and France, along with several other EU nations, opposes opening up Europe's highly regulated market to outside competition.

Free trade talks between Europe and Mercosur -- which comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay -- restarted this year after a six year break, despite France's concerns.

Europe is seeking better market access in Latin America's emerging economies for its industrial products but has been unwilling to accept more of their agricultural produce in return.

© 2010 AFP

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