EU trade chief says WTO deal hinges on industrial tariff cuts

GENEVA - Developing countries must make ‘real’ cuts in industrial tariffs if critical trade talks here this week are to succeed, the European Union warned on Monday, saying that this was a crucial condition.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 21 Jul 2008, 5:59 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:55 PM

‘A limited number of developing countries must accept tariff cuts’ on industrial goods as determined by an agreed coefficient, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told delegates.

Mandelson, who is under strong political pressure to harden his stance on industrial issues, said: ‘They must be real. These cuts must provide some new market access in practice.

‘That is the political bottom line. Nothing else will work for us. Nothing else will close the deal.’

Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim, who leads his country's delegation at the WTO talks, said over the weekend that current proposals would oblige Brazil to reduce its customs duties on half its imports.

He also said that Brazil's highest duties would come down by a third from about 35 to 25 percent.

The so-called Doha Development Round of negotiations was launched with great fanfare in the Qatari capital in November 2001.

It has been deadlocked as developed and developing countries show brinkmanship over concessions on issues such as agricultural subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods.

Any draft agreement thrashed out here would then have to go before all 152 members of the World Trade Organization.

Mandelson said that the talks were being ‘watched closely,’ and that ‘we need good news from Geneva this week.’

The EU trade commissioner will be under particular scrutiny from his own side following a public confrontation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who accused Mandelson of overstepping his mandate and offering too much on agriculture subsidies.

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