Hoping that the ‘informal meeting’ of WTO trade ministers here would send a strong signal for ending the deadlock in negotiations, the European Union said that a proper ‘road map’ could possibly be finalised at this crucial meeting to ensure that the global trade talks are concluded by the end of next year.
Interacting with a select group of journalists before the beginning of the informal summit of the World Trade Organization (WTO), European Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel said the failure to reach an agreement in July 2008, when the WTO talks collapsed, was a huge wasted opportunity to cut barriers to trade, to open up markets and to give a much-needed boost to the global economy.
“The key take away from this informal round should be a road map for concluding the negotiations before 2010. We are looking for a conclusion as the European Union (EU) has played an active role to find solutions. We are looking at possible end to the Doha Round through this opportunity,” she remarked.
Applauding India’s initiative for resumption of WTO talks, Ms. Fischer Boel said the EU was hopeful that it would be able to get a balanced solution for world trade during this meeting. “What we lose in Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) should be made up in the services sector which is expanding tremendously.”, she added. She said the EU had undertaken to reduce protection by an average 60 per cent and had also offered to phase out export subsidies by 2013.
Asked about differences within the EU over the trade talks, especially agriculture, Ms. Fischer Boel said: “We have a common agriculture policy and no possibility of any country — be it Germany or France — to create policies on their own. The EU is the chief negotiator. We have not great disagreement over the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) although NAMA and agriculture are difficult issues. This round is important for all,” she said.
She said the progress was being made on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but the talks needed to be given a big dynamic thrust to achieve the desired results. The contentious issues between the EU and India pertained mainly to wine and spirits and dairy products which needed to be resolved at the earliest.