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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 December, 2002, 21:30 GMT
EU offers WTO farm subsidy cuts
Harvesting in a EU farm
Farm subsidies make up almost half of the EU budget
The European Union has offered to cut tariffs on agricultural products by 36% as part of a talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Opening markets for farm goods is a key element in the current round of world trade talks.

It has produced a vacuous public relations document designed to paper over differences between member states

Justin Forsyth
Oxfam's Policy Director
Developing countries have demanded farm and textile industries, which are among their most important exports, be opened by the EU and US.

"We are ready to put our money where our mouth is," said EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy.

The US and aid groups have said the EU proposals are a public relations exercise and do not offer serious reforms. European offer

EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said the cuts were already incorporated in adjustments made to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Farm subsidies account for just under half of the EU's 90bn euro ($91.8bn) annual budget.

It has also offered duty-free, quota-free access for farm exports from developing countries.

The cuts in subsidies and tariff are conditional on similar cuts from other developed countries, particularly the US.

The US, Canada, Japan, Australia and the 15 EU members would also cut export subsidies by 45% and domestic subsidies as part of the deal.

Policy criticism

Aid groups said it fell far short of what was needed to help poor nations.

Oxfam described the Commission proposals as a public relations exercise leaving subsidies for the diary and sugar industries in tact.

"It has produced a vacuous public relations document designed to paper over differences between member states," said Justin Forsyth, Oxfam's Policy Director.

The Commission has offered to cut export subsidies for wheat, oilseeds, olive oil and tobacco.

The US said the Commission proposals failed make a serious change.

"The EC's proposal, while welcome, does not embrace fundamental reform in world agricultural trade," the US Trade Representative's office spokesman, Richard Mills, said in a statement.

In July Washington unveiled its agriculture proposals and President George W. Bush in May approved $173.5bn in domestic farm subsidies over 10 years.

See also:

25 Oct 02 | Business
10 Jul 02 | Europe
29 Apr 02 | Business
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