BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 16:16 GMT
EU rebuffs trade deal accusations
Peter Mandelson
Mr Mandelson says the WTO has set the deadline
European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson has denied accusations that controversial new trade deals will be harmful to developing nations.

In a letter to the Guardian, Mr Mandelson said deals being discussed with some 80 former colonies would help a shift from "dependency" to "growth".

But campaign groups, including Oxfam, want talks to continue and say the deals are being rushed through.

The EU has warned that without the new deals, certain nations would miss out.

'Poker'

The EU argued that there were misconceptions about EPAs (economic partnership agreements) and that critics were "complicating the job of those in the regions who want and need them".

Mr Mandelson said: "Calling for an end to Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) negotiations when there is no credible alternative is playing poker with the livelihoods of those we are trying to help."

As for accusations that the EU is trying to hurry through the agreements before the year ends, the EU has said that the World Trade Organization - not it - has set the deadline.

At present, some developing nations are given better trade terms than others, said the EU.

"This is not right morally, nor compatible with international trade rules," the trade commissioner wrote in the Guardian.

He said the EU had pledged to put in place a new system by the end of 2007 for countries outside the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, and that unless it did, the WTO could and would challenge the EU.



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific