Commission mulls further WTO concessions

France has lashed out at EU plans for liberalising agricultural markets, warning the commission not to exceed its negotiating mandate as it heads towards crucial WTO talks in Hong Kong in December.

French agriculture minister Dominique Bussereau demanded the commission make no further concessions, after a recent pledge to reduce import tariffs by 20-50%.

But other WTO partners have accused the EU of not going far enough.

“These negotiations are on the brink of collapse because the EU is refusing to make a meaningful offer on reducing its barriers to imported farm products,” said Australian trade minister Mark Vaile.

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has indicated the commission was considering making an improved offer.

But she insisted that she would stick to the mandate given by heads of state last year.

“The basis of this is that there should be no new CAP reform as a consequence of the Doha Development Round negotiations.”