26 November 1999
Agriculture to dominate WTO talks

MINISTERS from the 135 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are about to meet in Seattle to begin negotiations for the next trade round.

Amid mounting internal dissension and external criticism, the Financial Times, The Independent and The Guardian examine the issues at stake.

One of the main bones of contention is likely to be agriculture.

One bloc of WTO members, led by the European Union and Japan, is fiercely protective towards their subsidised markets.

But those policies under attack by another bloc of members, headed by Australia, which is equally determined to enforce free market principles.