6 July 2000
Fischler wants wider WTO farm talks
By Johann Tasker
EUROPEAN farm commissioner Franz Fischler has called for World Trade Organisation talks to include non-trade issues relating to agriculture.
Speaking at a conference this week in Ullensvang, Norway, he said: “Food safety or environmental protection cannot be achieved by market forces alone.”
The European Union wants the WTO negotiations to ensure progress towards a fair and market-oriented trading system for agriculture, Dr Fischler added.
But the European Union would insist that such a process must not put at risk the many contributions which agriculture makes to society.
The objective of the conference was to provide a forum for discussion among developing and developed countries on non-trade concerns.
According to a Brussels statement, delegates from non-EU countries broadly agreed that global farming policies must be made more flexible.
Dr Fischler said countries should be able to pursue non-trade farming objectives that boosted rural societies as well as food security and the environment.
Subjects covered by delegates included the contribution of farming in different countries to rural development, food security, environment and cultural diversity.
A need was expressed for flexibility in national policy designed to address non-trade concerns, both from a developed and developing country perspective.
The European Commission and the governments of Japan, Mauritius, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland hosted the conference.
It was attended by a further 34 developing and developed countries, including least-developed countries and small island developing states.
The discussions initiated at this conference will be pursued in further meetings during forthcoming WTO negotiations on agriculture.