Farming stumbling block for WTO

5 November 1999

Farming stumbling block for WTO

AGRICULTURE is proving to be the stumbling block in attempts by trade envoys to set an agenda for the next World Trade Organisation talks to be held in Seattle.

The issue pits the European Union, Japan, Korea, Norway and Switzerland against the USA and the 15-strong Cairns Group of non-subsidising agricultural exporters.

Latin American countries, in particular, are holding out for a tough line that would treat agricultural goods as any other goods.

This would also set out the need to eliminate export subsidies for farm products.

The EU and its allies want a reference to the “multifunctionality” of agriculture, such as its role in preserving rural communities.

Critics say this would be a licence to continue high levels of protection.

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