European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso has expressed fears about the slow pace of talks on global free trade.
In a speech to the World Trade Organisation in Generva, Barroso urged major developing countries to make concessions in areas such as services in order to match the EU’s offer to eliminate farm export subsidies, ahead of the next round of talks in Hong Kong.
He said: “More progress needs to be made if we are to achieve our objective for Hong Kong and it is crucial not to fail the Hong Kong opportunity.
“The European Union has demonstrated that it is ready to play its part in all sectors of negotiations, including agriculture, provided that others do the same, including advanced developing countries.”
After nearly collapsing in 2003, the so-called Doha trade round got back on track last year, thanks partly to the EU’s offer on export subsidies. Their elimination is a key demand of developing states, which say the hand-outs deny them fair access to markets.
But since then there has been little progress in any area of the WTO
talks and negotiators are having difficulty meeting a deadline at the end of July for some outline agreements.