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EU Farmers Slam WTO Proposals

19 July 2007

BRUSSELS - Europe's biggest farmers group slammed World Trade Organisation (WTO) proposals on Wednesday for how to save global trade talks. The proposals, they say would cut import tariffs too much and seemed designed to help US farmers.

The chairmen of talks at the WTO on agricultural and industrial goods on Tuesday published compromises which they said would be painful for the organisation's member countries but could serve as a basis for a final deal.

"These are extremely bad proposals on market access for the EU," said Shelby Matthews, director of commodities and trade at the COPA-COGECA farmers association, referring to the farm paper.

Measures in the paper would result in an estimated 64% cut in the average European Union farm import tariff, steeper than the bloc's formal offer of 46% made in October 2005, Matthews said.

The proposals could lead to big rises in imports into the 27-nation bloc of products such as beef and pig meat, she said.

Farm Bill could hinder WTO deal

"This proposal would mean cutting back EU production in return for more cheap imports which have lower health, animal welfare and environmental standards," Matthews told Reuters.

She also said the WTO text appeared to give the US government room to maintain some controversial parts of a new Farm Bill which critics have said could hinder a WTO deal, such as derogations for counter-cyclical payments and product-specific caps for US subsidies.

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Source: Fin24

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