Trade ministers meet in Geneva to solve differences over EU farm aid

EU Trade ministers met Thursday in an attempt to solve differences over farm aid as Brussels' offers to cut its farm tariffs both rich and poor countries.

Ministers met until late Wednesday, but were unable to find a solution that would enable global trade talks to move forward. The World Trade Organization's 148 members are trying to agree on an outline deal by the end of the year to boost the world's economy by lowering trade barriers.

"The failure of the EU to make a meaningful offer on agricultural market access is deeply disappointing," said Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile. "The EU are the ones putting the development round under threat, and developing countries will suffer most."

European trade chief Peter Mandelson is under pressure both from within the EU and outside it, as France withdrew its support for his proposals on cutting agricultural trade barriers.

The powerful G-20 group of developing counties is suggesting limiting the number of sensitive products which have higher import tariffs than other farm goods _ to no more than 1 percent of any member's total, in line with a U.S. proposal. The EU's latest offer was 8 percent, reports the AP.


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