EU REJECTS WTO AGENDA

WASHINGTON — The European Union, which supports a new global round of trade talks, has rejected part of the World Trade Organization’s draft agenda that calls for phasing out agricultural subsidies.
The WTO draft was released last month to serve as a platform to launch a new round of talks at a meeting of trade ministers in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 9-13.
“Our partners must go down the same road, as well, and when I look at their proposals, I see no balance,” said EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler at a briefing Thursday for WTO journalists in Brussels.
The U.S. is seeking to eliminate all direct subsidies, but the EU wants to maintain certain subsidies that limit production. Fischler said the draft text makes reference to phasing out agricultural subsidies, which is “unacceptable for us.”
In related news, trade and foreign ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai confirmed that the WTO would meet Nov. 9-13, but, in a final statement, left out the location. Some ministers are still pushing for a transfer to Singapore from Qatar, in light of U.S. military action in Afghanistan and potential security problems in the Persian Gulf nation.

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