French minister sees gloom at WTO talks

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French agriculture minister gives a gloomy assessment as emerging countries and developed countries remain at loggerheads after third day of WTO talks.

24 July 2008  

PARIS - French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier gave a gloomy assessment of the state of play in titanic efforts at the WTO to thrash out a global trade-opening deal, in remarks on Thursday.

"I don't see any light...on the horizon between extremely contradictory interests," he told French LCI radio.

Emerging countries had to make reciprocal proposals to match offers by advanced countries, he said referring to tense efforts in Geneva to reach an outline agreement on a World Trade Organization trade deal called the Doha Round.

France is an influential player in the position taken by the European Union and has a long record of taking a hard line to protect European Union arrangements to help EU agriculture.

Barnier said: "The European Union has made very great efforts, notably in making proposals for its agriculture, and we are looking for reciprocity from big emerging countries such as Brazil and China, and we are seeing nothing in the offing."

He said: "We are waiting for China, Brazil and India on the other hand to open their industrial markets. What we are seeking is a matter of equity."

The European Union would not accept a one-sided deal, he warned.

[AFP / Expatica]

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