World trade talks make small progress

Trade and agriculture ministers from six key countries made limited progress when they met to discuss the ongoing Doha Development Round of world trade talks in London last weekend.

The so-called G6 group – comprising Australia, Brazil, the EU, India, Japan and the USA – looked at ways of narrowing their differences in proposals for liberalising trade in agriculture, industrial goods and services.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson reiterated his call for meaningful concessions in the latter two areas if the EU is to give anything more on market access for food.

But the developing countries are reluctant to do so without further reform of EU farm supports.

After last December’s WTO meeting in Hong Kong, it was agreed to come up with firm figures on the extent and timing of subsidy and tariff cuts before the end of April.

Officials say this deadline is now looking optimistic.