With a deadline looming, ministers from 60 countries are trying to break the deadlock in the free trade talks at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. The complex negotiations have been stalled for over two years. Poorer countries are demanding the European Union and the United States reduce the subsidies they pay to their farmers in return for the major developing nations cutting the amount of tax they charge on imports. Reducing those import tariffs would allow the US and Europe to sell more in those countries.
The tariffs are already low in the European Union, the USA and Japan. In developing markets such as Brazil, China and above all India they are higher. Importers of agricultural products into India pay tariffs of 37.4%. The head of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, who is a former EU Trade Commissioner, called on Europe, the US and the developing countries to all make concessions.
If not, he said, they will miss the deadline for reaching a new trade treaty by the end of the year. The agreement is supposed to add billions of euros to the world economy and lift millions of people out of poverty. (Read on today’s EuroNews.net).