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WTO talks ‘in danger of collapse’

Peter Sutherland

By Stephen Cadogan
WORLD trade talks are on the verge of failure, warned top businessman and ex-EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland in Dublin last weekend.

The EU’s current offer in the talks, to cut food import tariffs by 46% on average, would dramatically reduce EU meat prices, and lead to the loss of up to 600,000 jobs as the EU cuts back meat production, according to European meat processors.

But the negotiations on agricultural trading, and the entire Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, are in imminent danger of collapse before their May 2006 deadline, says Sutherland, who was the founding director general of the WTO in 1995.

Delivering the Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture in Dublin, he warned that the bilateral agreements and special deals which could replace a failed Doha round would be bad for Ireland.

"There is no country in the world with a greater interest in a favourable outcome to the current trade talks than Ireland"," he said.

"I believe that the EU has more room for compromise, and should be prepared to move further, assuming other aspects of the negotiations are favourable."

In his lecture, organised by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland, and sponsored by Kerry Group, Sutherland said the EU has failed to convince its counterparts in the WTO that anything has really changed for farmers in Europe.

He said: "If the nub of the issue in the Doha round is that Europe cannot, at one and the same time, go through a painful and profound reform of the CAP for the third time in 15 years, integrate 10 new members, and tear down its tariffs protecting farmers from the might of international competition, then we will need to do better in convincing the rest of the world why not."

Sutherland, who chairs the boards of two world leading firms, BP and Goldman Sachs, revealed that several other participants in WTO talks fear that the EU’s offer of up to 60% reduction in food import tariffs is too ambitious for their own farm sectors to sustain, in Japan, Korea and Switzerland, among others. He said developing countries which enjoy EU preference are equally worried.

"I tend to agree with the Commission that in the absence of serious offers in the Doha negotiations related to market access for industrial products and services by some of the big emerging economies, they will find it impossible to improve the EU’s agricultural offer right now.

"When, however, the time is right, I believe the European Union could and should table marginally more forthcoming basic tariff cuts and agree to reduce the percentage of tariff lines to be regarded as sensitive."

 

WTO talks ‘in danger of collapse’

Peter Sutherland

By Stephen Cadogan
WORLD trade talks are on the verge of failure, warned top businessman and ex-EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland in Dublin last weekend.

The EU’s current offer in the talks, to cut food import tariffs by 46% on average, would dramatically reduce EU meat prices, and lead to the loss of up to 600,000 jobs as the EU cuts back meat production, according to European meat processors.

But the negotiations on agricultural trading, and the entire Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, are in imminent danger of collapse before their May 2006 deadline, says Sutherland, who was the founding director general of the WTO in 1995.

Delivering the Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture in Dublin, he warned that the bilateral agreements and special deals which could replace a failed Doha round would be bad for Ireland.

"There is no country in the world with a greater interest in a favourable outcome to the current trade talks than Ireland"," he said.

"I believe that the EU has more room for compromise, and should be prepared to move further, assuming other aspects of the negotiations are favourable."

In his lecture, organised by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland, and sponsored by Kerry Group, Sutherland said the EU has failed to convince its counterparts in the WTO that anything has really changed for farmers in Europe.

He said: "If the nub of the issue in the Doha round is that Europe cannot, at one and the same time, go through a painful and profound reform of the CAP for the third time in 15 years, integrate 10 new members, and tear down its tariffs protecting farmers from the might of international competition, then we will need to do better in convincing the rest of the world why not."

Sutherland, who chairs the boards of two world leading firms, BP and Goldman Sachs, revealed that several other participants in WTO talks fear that the EU’s offer of up to 60% reduction in food import tariffs is too ambitious for their own farm sectors to sustain, in Japan, Korea and Switzerland, among others. He said developing countries which enjoy EU preference are equally worried.

"I tend to agree with the Commission that in the absence of serious offers in the Doha negotiations related to market access for industrial products and services by some of the big emerging economies, they will find it impossible to improve the EU’s agricultural offer right now.

"When, however, the time is right, I believe the European Union could and should table marginally more forthcoming basic tariff cuts and agree to reduce the percentage of tariff lines to be regarded as sensitive."

 

WTO talks ‘in danger of collapse’

Peter Sutherland

By Stephen Cadogan
WORLD trade talks are on the verge of failure, warned top businessman and ex-EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland in Dublin last weekend.

The EU’s current offer in the talks, to cut food import tariffs by 46% on average, would dramatically reduce EU meat prices, and lead to the loss of up to 600,000 jobs as the EU cuts back meat production, according to European meat processors.

But the negotiations on agricultural trading, and the entire Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, are in imminent danger of collapse before their May 2006 deadline, says Sutherland, who was the founding director general of the WTO in 1995.

Delivering the Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture in Dublin, he warned that the bilateral agreements and special deals which could replace a failed Doha round would be bad for Ireland.

"There is no country in the world with a greater interest in a favourable outcome to the current trade talks than Ireland"," he said.

"I believe that the EU has more room for compromise, and should be prepared to move further, assuming other aspects of the negotiations are favourable."

In his lecture, organised by the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland, and sponsored by Kerry Group, Sutherland said the EU has failed to convince its counterparts in the WTO that anything has really changed for farmers in Europe.

He said: "If the nub of the issue in the Doha round is that Europe cannot, at one and the same time, go through a painful and profound reform of the CAP for the third time in 15 years, integrate 10 new members, and tear down its tariffs protecting farmers from the might of international competition, then we will need to do better in convincing the rest of the world why not."

Sutherland, who chairs the boards of two world leading firms, BP and Goldman Sachs, revealed that several other participants in WTO talks fear that the EU’s offer of up to 60% reduction in food import tariffs is too ambitious for their own farm sectors to sustain, in Japan, Korea and Switzerland, among others. He said developing countries which enjoy EU preference are equally worried.

"I tend to agree with the Commission that in the absence of serious offers in the Doha negotiations related to market access for industrial products and services by some of the big emerging economies, they will find it impossible to improve the EU’s agricultural offer right now.

"When, however, the time is right, I believe the European Union could and should table marginally more forthcoming basic tariff cuts and agree to reduce the percentage of tariff lines to be regarded as sensitive."