July 21, 2003 -- CropChoice
news -- The Guardian: The European Union will today raise
the stakes in vital global trade talks when it adopts a hardline
negotiating stance for September's World Trade Organization meeting
in Cancun, Mexico.
Pascal Lamy, Europe's top trade negotiator, will insist on new
talks about opening up developing countries to foreign investors
as the price of making any cuts to Europe's $40bn (£25bn)
farm subsidies, according to a secret report leaked to the Guardian.
Members of Parliament (MP) on the international development committee
warned last week that Europe could turn Cancun into a repeat of
the WTO's disastrous Seattle meeting if it insisted on putting foreign
investment on the agenda against the wishes of most developing countries.
The draft document that spells out Europe's strategy for Cancun
was approved last week by top EU trade officials and will be rubber-stamped
today by ministers. Although EU farm ministers agreed in principle
last month to reform the common agricultural policy, the document
says no changes will be made unless other countries make concessions
to Europe's demands for less radical cuts to agricultural tariffs.
"It's total brinkmanship. The EU is saying, 'it's our way
or the highway'," said Rachel Thompson, a trade analyst with
Europe's tactics are likely to infuriate other WTO members who
had hoped last month's reforms were a sign that Europe was committed
to real cuts. Brussels pays the biggest farm subsidies in the world,
encouraging Europe's inefficient farmers to produce mountains of
unwanted food that is dumped in the developing world, hitting local
With less than two months to go before the Cancun meeting, WTO
negotiators face an enormous task in bridging differences on thorny
issues such as agriculture, access to cheap medicines and investment.
The talks that began nearly two years ago in Doha are supposed to
be wrapped up by the end of 2004.
"If the EU position doesn't change, I would say there is a
fifty-fifty chance that Cancun will be total failure," said