09 July 1999
Barriers to farm trade likely to stay

THE European Union (EU) appears unlikely to remove any of its barriers to farm trade from outside the Continent in the next round of World Trade Organisation talks.

The EU has called for wide-ranging liberalisation of trade in a policy paper which lays out its position for the WTO meeting due to start in Seattle in November.

But while committed to activism on several fronts, it takes a conservative stance on agriculture, defending the reforms recently agreed to the common agriculture policy.

Sir Leon Brittan, outgoing trade commissioner, admitted yesterday (Thursday) that the EU might have to accept further reform in the process of negotiation.

The EU appears destined for a further run in with other WTO members over its assertion that the trade organisations rules on food policy need to “clarified and strengthened”.

Many EU governments want to ban some foods, such as genetically modified products, butthe US claims that bans should be allowed only on the back of scientific evidence of health risks.

  • Financial Times 09/07/99 page 4
  • The Guardian 09/07/99 page 25