Better chances now for a world trade deal, says EU's Mandelson

03 Apr 2008


Mumbai:  Member nations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would hopefully soon reach a basic agreement on the Doha Round of trade talks, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said.
"I hope for an agreement in the next month," he said, adding, "I am more confident than I have been up to now."

A more detailed accord could follow in six to eight months once the basic agreement on agriculture and industrial goods are arrived at, Mandelson told reporters in Berlin.

Trade negotiators in Geneva have been working towards a possible breakthrough on the long-running Doha Round, launched in late 2001, aiming at  a ministerial-level meeting in April or May.

Mandelson said it was important to push for a deal before the end of the administration of US President George W. Bush in January 2009.

"Whoever plays for time now is playing with fire," he said.

The EU, like the United States, is facing demands to make deep cuts in its agricultural subsidies and tariffs, but want major developing countries such as India and Brazil to open their markets in exchange.

Mandelson acknowledged that tough negotiations were still needed to find a fair balance that would recognise Europe's interests on opening markets for industrial goods and services.

He, however, warned trading partners of growing protectionist tendencies worldwide. Top exporter Germany in particular and Europe in general should have a special interest in open markets, he said.

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said an agreement to lower barriers and open markets to trade now can be a ``shot in the arm'' for the world economy.
The 151 members aiming to conclude the Doha round of world trade talks since the end of 2001 have been divided on cutting farm subsidies in the US, EU, Japan and other rich nations, and reducing industrial tariffs in large developing nations such as India and Brazil.

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