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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 21:38 GMT
EU 'has room to move on tariffs'
Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson called on other WTO members to stop blocking a deal
Europe's trade chief has said he has room to manoeuvre on how many goods he will protect from tariff cuts at World Trade Organisation talks next month.

But Peter Mandelson did add that he had no plans to give in to demands for more cuts in farming tariffs.

"There are plenty of aspects and areas of our offer where we can elaborate, elucidate and specify," he told a European Parliament trade committee.

He added that there was room to move on "sensitive products" like beef.

Protected goods

The EU's latest offer proposes to shield 8% of its faming export goods from tariffs - labelling them "sensitive" - and cutting its charges on agricultural goods by 46%.

However, some WTO members have objected to the offer - with big exporters like the US and Brazil saying only 1% of EU goods should fall into the sensitive category.

With Mr Mandelson vowing to stand firm on tariffs, he urged other WTO members to "take a reality check" and give some ground by lowering tariffs on industrial goods and liberalising trade in services.

"As long as they (WTO members) keep blocking that negotiation ... then I'm afraid they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces," he said.

"Our negotiating partners have to take a reality check."

WTO members are due to meet up for trade talks in Hong Kong on 13 December.

But, following a meeting of five key members on Tuesday, the discussions are not expected to produce a framework for a new agreement on trade that would make current rules are fairer to developing countries.

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