February 23, 2008 / 11:17 AM / 12 years ago

Sarkozy says EU making too many WTO concessions

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Saturday the European Union was making too many concessions in current World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks and called for emerging countries to show more goodwill.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech in front of a portrait of the late President Charles de Gaulle during the inauguration of a museum dedicated to de Gaulle's life in Paris February 22, 2008. Sarkozy said on Saturday the European Union was making too many concessions in current World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

He said the EU needed to defend its interests more vigorously and France would oppose any deal that went against its interests and those of the EU bloc.

“I regret that Europe is making more and more important concessions without anything in exchange. This attitude is an impasse,” Sarkozy said at the inauguration of the Paris annual farm show.

“The government of the French Republic will firmly oppose any agreement that would sacrifice the interests of French and EU agriculture,” he added.

France is the single biggest beneficiary of the EU’s farm subsidies, worth more than 40 billion euros ($58.5 billion) a year in total.

Negotiations on the Doha round have ground almost to a halt in Geneva this week as diplomats pored over the revised texts issued this month to pave the way for a ministerial meeting.

The Doha round was launched in November 2001 to boost the world economy and help developing countries lift themselves out of poverty by exporting more.

“The emerging countries think that they have only rights and no obligations,” Sarkozy said.

The talks, often declared dead, were revived last year, and trade ministers meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month declared their determination to meet in March or April with a view to completing the deal by the end of the year.

The latest proposals on the table, drawn up by the chairman of the agricultural negotiations at the WTO, would require the EU to go further than it originally planned with cuts to the bloc’s import tariffs for farm products.

France has repeatedly opposed the kind of concessions in agriculture that EU trade chief Peter Mandelson has said he is willing to consider if other members make similar sacrifices.

Reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide

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