EU's Barroso urges US, Brazil to move on WTO

Original Publication Date: 
13 November, 2005
PARIS (Reuters) - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday there would be no new world trade agreement at a summit in Hong Kong next month unless the United States and Brazil compromised.

"If the others do not move ... there will be no agreement," Barroso told France's Europe 1 radio in an interview.

He said he was "pessimistic" about the chances of reaching agreement at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit.

"If the others do not move, it will be a failure. They must consider this offer (by the European Union) as a very big step," Barroso said, adding that the EU could not be blamed if the summit ended in failure.

Trade negotiators from around the world said last week their differences were still too deep to settle on a blueprint for a new WTO round at the Hong Kong summit.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorism held talks in Rome on Saturday which they said were useful but did not achieve a breakthrough.

The Hong Kong meeting between Dec. 13 and 18 was previously billed as a deadline for reaching the outline plan, four years after the round was launched to boost the global economy and help farmers in some of the world's poorest countries.

Now the toughest issues are only likely to be thrashed out in 2006, approaching what trade experts say is the real deadline for the round -- the expiry in mid-2007 of the U.S. president's authority to do trade deals with minimal Congressional scrutiny.

Brazil -- which has a booming agricultural sector -- and other nations including the United States and Australia complain that the Em's proposals to cut its barriers for farm imports are too timid.

Brussels insists it has gone as far as it can, given the resistance of some EU members such as France to more concessions.

The EU says it wants developing countries, led by Brazil, to make an offer on removing barriers for industrial exports and services.

France has threatened to block any deal with which it is not happy. Barrios said France had the right to issue such threats but he added that he also had to listen to the views of other EU member states.