EC President Stresses Broader Scope for Doha Talks

Agriculture is important, but global trade talks shouldn't neglect industrial goods and services.

WASHINGTON — Agriculture is important, but global trade talks shouldn’t neglect industrial goods and services, said José Barroso, president of the European Commission, after an Oval Office meeting with President Bush on Tuesday.

Barroso told reporters the Doha trade talks, sponsored by the World Trade Organization, should aim for an ambitious, but balanced agreement. The ongoing talks, which face a key planning meeting in Hong Kong in December, are centered on increasing access to global markets and eliminating tariffs on agricultural goods; nonagricultural products, such as apparel, and services.

The focus of negotiations has been on agricultural goods, such as cotton, and the U.S. proposal last week to get Doha back on track. The agricultural plan called for a 60 percent cut in trade-distorting, domestic-subsidy levels and the elimination of export subsidies by 2010.

“Of course, we have to move on agriculture,” said Barroso. “We want others to move, to open their markets to our services because they are closed, to respect intellectual property rights because there are violations sometimes.”

Barroso also stressed the European Union and the U.S., which together account for 40 percent of global trade, should not lose sight of the poorest countries in the talks.

“The Doha agenda is a development agenda,” he said. “Trade very often can do much more than aid. The poorest countries, the least-developed countries, they need some special attention.”

All 148 WTO-member countries are part of the trade talks, but the U.S. and EU have considerable influence in their direction. The EC is the legislative body of the EU.

Barroso stressed the importance of the transatlantic relationship and the impact of globalization in remarks prepared for an appearance at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Tuesday.

“If some of our citizens fear globalization, perhaps it is because they think that wealth creation is a zero-sum game, that if someone else is now getting a slice of cake, their slice must be getting smaller,” he said. “But globalization is a chance to increase the size of the whole cake.”

Globalization, however, makes the future more unpredictable and makes it harder for any country to go it alone, he said.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The EU and the U.S. working in partnership are uniquely placed to offer leadership here,” said Barroso. “In these times of rapid change, we have a greater interest than ever before in stepping up our relationship in order to provide that leadership.”