US Irked by Brazil’s Insistence on Farm Subsidies Reduction

Brazil and India called on United States, European Union and Japan to open their markets to agriculture exports and make bigger farm subsidies cuts if the stalled Doha Round global trade talks are to be rescued.

Speaking in London Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that the G20 group of developing nations is ready to discuss liberalization of trade in services and manufactures, but "it all depends on what we achieve for agriculture, which we still consider insufficient".

Representatives from the US, EU, Japan, Brazil and India, which have been informally identified as the "big five" of the WTO, are currently holding trade talks in the Indian Embassy in London.

Previous to the meeting Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath told reporters that in spite of recent announcements by Washington and Brussels proposing farm subsidies cuts, the agriculture sector remains as the international trade sector most plagued by distortions.

"We welcome the EU offer, it is a step forward. But it cannot be that you give an inch and ask for a mile," the Indian official underlined.

London’s session in the London Indian embassy is in anticipation of a broader meeting Tuesday at WTO headquarters in Geneva, where hopefully the groundwork for next month’s WTO Hong Kong summit can be agreed.

Mr. Amorim recalled that during a weekend visit to Brazil U.S. President George W. Bush confirmed Washington is willing to reduce the massive subsidies to farmers, but only if the EU is prepared to do likewise.

Brazil’s top diplomat highlighted that G20 countries could not accept an EU proposal to reduce European tariffs by an average of 39% while demanding developing countries cut manufactured goods duties 70%.

However, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson dramatically underlined the need for success in December’s Hong Kong WTO summit.

Mr. Mandelson said Brazil, India and other big agricultural exporters must stop making discussion of other issues contingent on receiving concessions in the farming sector.

"We have made others understand that this can now only be a comprehensive negotiation, in which we have to make progress on all fronts simultaneously and with similar levels of ambition," pointed out the EU Commissioner.

Mr. Portman warned about the consequences of "squandering" opportunities presented by the upcoming talks in Hong Kong.

This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.

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