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Australia In New Quest For Trade Deal

  • April 11th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

wto-reduced.gifA high level international trade meeting in New Delhi will see the United States put under pressure to cut its domestic support for farm production.
Trade Ministers representing four parties (Brazil, the European Union, India and the United States), called the G4, are meeting from Wednesday (11.4.07) in India, trying to re-start the World Trade Organisation, Doha Round talks, mainly blocked over agriculture.

The Australian and Japanese Trade Ministers were scheduled to join them on Friday, forming the G6, a group of trading countries with contending interests.

It’s the first meeting of the G6 Ministers since the world trade talks were suspended last July

The European Union says it has drastically cut tariffs and export subsidies for farmers, clearing the way for fresh deals on agriculture.

Its Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, has been campaigning hard for re-opening of the Doha round, and one EU demand is that America should now match it with a reduction in domestic farm subsidies.

A spokesman, Michael Mann, said the United States was now the main one resisting change.

“What we’re looking for really to kick-start these negotiations is for the United States to come forward with a really meaningful offer to cut their trade-distorting domestic farm subsidies,” he said.

“In recent years the G4 anfd the G6 have been the core negotiating group. You’ve got the EU and the US, the two biggest traders in the world.

“You’ve got India and Brazil representing the developing world. Obviously the Brazilian side is more the agricultural exporter group, and the Indians represent a different section of the developing countries.

“Then of course Australia has always played a key role in this, being a lead member of what was the Cairns Group, and Japan also is a major player, because they’re part of what we call the G10, which is the group of countries that are very defensive in terms of agricultural imports.”

EUAustralia asked: was the EU oprimnistic, or showing dogged determination?

“Probably mostly dogged determination I’d say. Progress has been made by the technicians, by officials, but you’re not going to get a deal on something like this unless you’ve got the Ministers taking political decisions”, said Mr Mann.

“It’s not easy.”

Picture: WTO logo, Geneva headquarters