Anti-globalisation protesters have turned out in force as world trade talks get underway in Hong Kong today. Thousands of people have been marching through the heavily-policed streets of the former British colony, which ironically owes much of its prosperity to international commerce. Among them was perhaps the best-known face of the worldwide anti-globalisation movement, veteran French campaigner Jose Bove.
“Today, the opening of the markets is a real danger for most small farmers in the South and the North,” he said.
He also challenged the agricultural policy of the European Union and the United States – accusing them of hiding subsidies on exports behind direct aid.
Reaching agreement on agriculture remains the main stumbling block at the six day meeting.
The EU in particular is under pressure to make concessions by reducing subsidies and cutting import tariffs. There is no sign that the talks will break a deadlock in negotiations for a global free trade pact.