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Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 12 News List

US attacks EU for its protection of agricultural sector


US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick criticized the EU this weekend for being too insular on key world trade issues and urged the 15-nation EU to stop delaying the vexed issue of cutting agricultural subsidies.

Zoellick also said the US viewed world trade liberalization as part of the fight against terrorism.

He told the Munich Economic Summit on Saturday that in the last two years the US had worked hard to link free trade to economic growth, development and -- especially since the Sept. 11 attacks -- to security.

Zoellick also warned that the US was becoming impatient with the EU's opposition to products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), saying it was affecting US trade in other parts of the world.

"The European disease ... is expanding," he said.

Zoellick said he had observed Europe becoming increasingly absorbed with its own challenges, which had led to "an insularity relative to the rest of the world."

"The United States has a global perspective, whether in security, economic or political terms," he said.

"On some of these issues with Europe, whether it be agriculture, the benefits of the WTO or some of these investment issues, it's very important that Europeans ... raise their head above the barricades now and then and see the rest of the world."

Zoellick said the US was looking to the EU to help regain momentum in the world trade liberalization process ahead of the next round of WTO talks in Cancun, Mexico, in September.

This would above all require movement on reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), he said.

Washington wants EU governments to back proposals from the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- to reform the CAP by decoupling the amount farmers receive in subsidies from the amount they produce.

Zoellick added that the US was running out of patience with Europe's de facto moratorium on products containing GMOs and might take the case to the WTO.

"Whatever the cause -- various anxieties, anti-scientific attitudes -- there has been a blockage in Europe. The moratorium, as [European Trade Commissioner Pascal] Lamy has been pointing out to his colleagues, is a blatant violation of WTO rules," he declared.

"Now I think we've worked through that issue but I have found over the past two years there are more and more people that use European-type justifications to block this product."

"If we feel that these actions are not moving in the right direction, we'll exercise our WTO rights."

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