Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 13:21 UK

Mandelson raps Sarkozy over trade

EU trade chief Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson sees free trade as the way to strengthen the global economy

Peter Mandelson has stepped up his row with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, attacking "protectionist politicians" for putting world trade talks at risk.

The next round of talks should focus on the "essential" matter of lifting trade barriers, he told the Sunday Telegraph.

"Protectionist rhetoric suggests that many do not see these benefits," the EU trade commissioner added.

The trade talks have repeatedly stalled over the amount of state aid given to key industries in Western countries.

Mr Mandelson also warned that the latest round of trade talks was "not be about individual personalities" and public rows would "come with a cost to our ability to defend our interests".

"Europe cannot view the future of world trade solely through the lens of agriculture and agricultural subsidies," he wrote.

"The prosperity of Europeans ultimately depends on the competitiveness and strength of our industrial goods and services."

Public spat

Last week, Mr Sarkozy had accused Mr Mandelson of trying to force a trade deal on the EU that would destroy European jobs and sell out European farmers in the name of free trade in the so-called Doha Round of trade talks.

Mr Mandelson is set to lead the EU delegation of trade ministers at World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Geneva later this month.

WTO Organisation talks on the question of lifting trade barriers, which began in Qatar in 2001, have hit problems over tariffs and subsidies.

Advocates of a deal say it would help end poverty in developing countries, while rich countries could also benefit if they can sell more goods and services abroad.

Meanwhile, developed countries are deeply opposed to restrictive industrial tariffs in fast-growing emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.

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