France and Ireland claim the European Union has exhausted its scope for concessions on agriculture as the world trade talks get underway next week. Trade ministers from dozens of countries will meet in Geneva for a potentially decisive bid to break the deadlock in the long delayed Doha round of negotiations.
But a deal at the expense of agriculture is not on according to Ireland’s Minister for Europe Dick Roche, “ Agriculture is a very important industry in Ireland. Such an important industry cannot be used as a barganing tool.”
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is under presssure to get a deal after French President Nikolas Sarkozy accused him of giving away too many farm concessions and winning little in return on industrial goods and services from big devoloping nations such as China and India.
France holds the EU’s rotating presidency, making it a key player in brokering the bloc’s response to any global free trade deal.
French Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Idrac had this to said ahead of the crucial talks,
“We have exhausted our room for manoeuvre, so there’s nothing more to concede, certain issues have been clarified and we are still in discussion on others, but no more concessions.”
Failure to achieve a breakthrough will result in the round being set back years as the US concentrates on November’s presidential election and the European Commission’s term ends in 2009.