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Brazil says eu farm subsidies distorts market

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EU Must Fix Date to Halt Export Aid at WTO Talks, Brazil Says
Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The World Trade Organization's summit in Hong Kong will be considered successful provided the European Union sets a date to end export aid that compensates farmers and distorts commodity markets, Brazil said.

In a bid to induce WTO negotiators to move on with the rest of the agenda, the European Commission in October offered to make the deepest-ever cuts to its farm-import tariffs and said it was at the ``outer limit'' of its negotiating mandate from the bloc's 25 governments.

``My hope for Hong Kong, and that would be a good yardstick to judge if it's a success or not, would be to put an end date for export subsidies,'' Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said in an interview in Hong Kong late yesterday. ``That doesn't confront directly the limitations of the mandate as I understand it, because it's more tactical than anything else, and it would still put some steam in the engine.''

Agriculture spending and disputes about cuts in tariffs, domestic grants and export subsidies for farmers are the biggest obstacles to an accord that is supposed to be concluded by the end of 2006. Negotiators have given themselves until March 1 to agree how to lower export support for farm commodities, including U.S. food aid and export credit programs.

Amorim leads a group of about 20 poor, agriculture- exporting nations including India and China that want the EU to make new concessions on its farm spending at the six-day WTO summit that started today. Such a move by the EU is a prerequisite for Brazil, the world's biggest producer of sugar cane and coffee, to offer cuts to its own tariffs on industrial goods or open up to foreign investment.

`Doomed to Success'

Two of the WTO's last three summits, in Seattle in 1999 and Cancun, Mexico, in 2003, collapsed.

The WTO initially aimed to complete two-thirds of the work needed to prepare a final agreement for 2006 in Hong Kong. Negotiators last month said they'd abandoned that goal as the main governments haggle over the limits of one another's offers.

The current trade round is ``doomed to success,'' Amorim said. ``Otherwise, the world would be doomed to failure and we can't afford that. A failure is when you hope for too much and don't get anything. Here we have to be realistic; this will not be the end of the road.''

Last Updated: December 12, 2005 21:17 EST

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