U.S., EU leaders promise to push Doha round

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and European leaders said on Monday they remained committed to a successful conclusion of the Doha round of world trade talks, while launching a new initiative to boost transatlantic trade.

“The first thing I told the group in the Cabinet room is that I am firmly dedicated to a successful Doha round,” U.S. President George W. Bush told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso.

The three leaders spoke to reporters just a few hours after the chief mediator in WTO farm talks said the United States would have to offer at least another 14 percent cut in farm subsidies to get a deal.

New Zealand’s ambassador, Crawford Falconer, chairman of the WTO’s agricultural negotiations, also said the EU would have to improve its offer to cut tariffs on imported farm goods.

The U.S. and EU leaders did not refer to Falconer’s 28-page report, but Bush acknowledged the trade-off needed to reach a deal.

“We’re committed to reducing our agricultural subsidies in order to advance the process. We expect others to follow suit in market access. Anyway, I am optimistic we can achieve the objective,” Bush said.

“We told our trade ministers: Work hard, work often, work constructively,” Bush said.

The United States and the EU remain actively engaged in the Doha round despite launching a new initiative to boost transatlantic trade by reducing regulatory barriers, Barroso said.