In Visit to Brazil Chirac Says He’s Ready for EU-Mercosur Trade Accord

    French President Jacques Chirac who started today, May 25, a two days visit to Brazil called on "both sides" to overcome the current disagreements on farm tariffs and subsidies that have pitted Mercosur against the European Union in international trade talks.

    "To reach an agreement you need to give and receive, and this demands an effort from both sides. We’re ready to do our part", said Chirac interviewed by the Brazilian Globo network.

    Brazil a first line global exporter of farm commodities leads the struggle in the World Trade Organization, WTO, against EU and US agriculture subsidies, which it argues "gives European and American farmers an unfair hedge in world trade".

    France on the other hand is the main beneficiary of EU farm subsidies.

    "We’re ready to advance further. That is the spirit of the agriculture reform in the EU which seeks the elimination in a prudential time of all subsidies that can destabilize exports in agriculture terms," said Chirac.

    In Paris, WTO head Pascal Lamy said it was not too late to save the Doha round talks, if the US, Europe and developing countries make concessions regarding tariffs and subsidies.

    The Doha round time is coming to an end since in July 2007 expire the US presidency "fast track" powers which force Congress to accept or reject international trade agreements as a whole package.

    Actually this week the EU said it was willing to move toward developing countries’ demands by making bigger cuts to its import tariffs.

    The tentative offer by the European Union came at a Paris meeting of ministers and senior officials from key trade powers, less than a month before a crunch deadline in the Doha round of World Trade Organization talks, which has come to a near standstill over agriculture.

    The EU had previously offered to cut tariffs on farm goods by an average 39%, well short of both the 54% demanded by the G-20 group of developing countries and the 66% called for by United States.

    Top EU trade negotiator David O’Sullivan confirmed Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Brussels has told trade partners it is now ready to go further.

    "We would be willing to look at our offer and move towards, but not to, the G-20 position," said O’Sullivan, who reports directly to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.

    But he stressed the improvement of the EU’s offer was conditional on new U.S. subsidy cuts and moves by developing countries to open their industrial goods markets.

    Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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