WTO draft 'acceptable but no success': Mandelson

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson today called the final draft of a WTO agreement “acceptable” – saving the meeting from failure, but not quite making it a success either.

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson today called the final draft of a WTO agreement “acceptable” – saving the meeting from failure, but not quite making it a success either.

The EU reached a compromise with Brazil and other developing nations over the contentious issue of farm export subsidies, according to a draft of the final agreement.

The draft pushed back to 2013 the date for eliminating farm export subsidies from 2010, as proposed in the previous version that circulated Saturday.

However, the text included a provision that a substantial part of the subsidies would go by “the first half of the implementation period,” a vague reference to a period that subsequent talks will decide.

A decision on this will be made at a later date, the text suggested.

“The text is acceptable,” Mr Mandelson said. The draft “is not enough to make it (the meeting) a success, but enough to save it from failure.”

Developing nations say the government farm payments to promote exports undercut the competitive advantage of poor farmers.

“The EU has gone further in its existing commitment to eliminate significant export subsidies,” he said.

Mr Mandelson had said a day earlier that the text lacks ambition and balance. All week long, he has insisted that the 25-nation EU would like to see lower tariffs on industrial goods and services.

The European Union’s willingness to negotiate and make concessions on the agreement made it possible for everyone to reach a consensus on the text.

“Europe made it happen,” he said.

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