EU Rejects Ag Requests in G-6 Meeting

Original Publication Date: 
28 February, 2006

Geneva - Brussels yesterday flatly rejected calls by the United States, Australia and Brazil to improve its farm market access offer a stand that cast doubts on whether the ministerial meeting of the Group-of-Six countries next week in London will succeed in breaking the ice in the Doha Development Agenda farm negotiations , WTD was told (WTD, 2/28/06).

During a day-long G-6 meeting, senior trade officials from the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India, Australia and Japan debated how to overcome the differences in the market access pillar of the Doha farm trade negotiations. The EU stuck to its negotiating stance, saying it cannot go beyond its October 2005 offer.

The EU has offered tariff cuts from 22.8 percent to 12.1 percent in the lowest band of 0 percent to 30 percent tariffs amounting to an average 35 percent reduction where the bulk of farm imports reside. Sixty percent cuts would be taken in the highest band of tariffs over 90 percent. Brussels also stood its ground on declaring 8 percent of its tariff lines as "sensitive" products amounting to over 160 tariff lines.

Improve Your Offer

The United States, Australia and Brazil challenged Brussels to improve the magnitude of its offer charging that the current offer amounts to less than 39 percent in tariff reduction against 64 percent offered by the Group-of-20 developing countries and 75 percent from the United States. Brussels also refused to consider demands that its proposed tariff-rate quotas for sensitive products be based on domestic consumption rather than total imports.
Brussels insisted at yesterday's session that it has already crossed the "red line" in its offer adding that it could only consider minor improvements in sensitive products.

Japan backed the EU on market access and TRQs.

The officials also quibbled over what constituted "substantial improvement" in market access and how to make advances through a combination of tariff quota commitments and tariff reductions, WTD was told. Washington which came under pressure Monday during a discussion on its domestic supports pressed for greater market access offers from both the EU and Japan.

The United States also called for strict criteria for "special products" and a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries. It said flexibilities afforded developing countries in both initiatives should not undermine effective market access.

The G-6 officials will discuss the export competition pillar today and attempt to prepare an agenda for the London ministerial meeting, sources said.