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Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 11:30 GMT
Mandelson warning of WTO failure
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson says December trade talks will fail
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has ruled out any chance of a deal from the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting due to be held next month.

WTO ministers are meeting in Hong Kong on 13 December to try to agree a framework for reducing trade barriers.

But rows over agricultural tariffs and subsidies between the EU and big exporters such as the US and Brazil mean they will fail, Mr Mandelson said.

He said that there was still hope of an deal being struck some time in 2006.

Taken hostage

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Mandelson said the EU had already offered to cut some agricultural subsidies by up to 70% as well as trim tariffs.

But the talks of the past year had been "taken hostage" and pushed into an "agricultural siding".

"The problem is that whatever we offer is not enough for the highly competitive, very aggressive agricultural producers and exporters like Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and the United States," he said.

Mr Mandelson said their stance didn't coincide with the interests of most developing nations.

"The far reaching nature of their agricultural tariff cuts would result in the trade of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries with Europe being all but wiped out.

"Two-thirds of their agricultural trade depends on preferential access to European markets and would disappear."

Mr Mandelson added that for any breakthrough to be made next year, WTO members would need to make progress in lowering tariffs for industrial goods and liberalising the trade in services.


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