European Commission to make new offer on agriculture, services in global trade talks |

European Commission to make new offer on agriculture, services in global trade talks

HAMPTON COURT, England – The European Commission will make a new offer in global trade talks Friday, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.Barroso said Thursday that the offer will cover not only agriculture but also the service sector. He said the offer was being made on condition that other trade partners would match it, but declined to go into specific details.”It will be a new offer, but with strong conditionality. The others should move as well,” said Barroso, whose office is negotiating on behalf of the 25-nation EU at world trade talks ahead of a key meeting in Hong Kong in December.The 148-country World Trade Organization remains split on a new trade pact that aims to increase market access for poorer countries.The European Union is under pressure to significantly increase its proposed cuts in farm tariffs. The EU has offered cuts of 50 percent on the most protected products, well below the 90 percent the United States has put on the table.”We need an ambitious and balanced round that promotes actively European interests in that negotiation but at the same time helps poorest countries,” Barroso said at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the close of the informal, one-day EU summit.His announcement came after French President Jacques Chirac told fellow EU leaders at the summit that his country would veto any world trade deal that went too far, casting more doubts over whether the EU’s negotiating position remains united.”There is no way we are going to take an extra step,” Chirac told reporters. “A red line has been drawn and we will not overstep it.”France has been at loggerheads with EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and the European Commission, claiming they have offered too many concessions in WTO trade talks.Chirac denied his country was protectionist and insisted that EU leaders must show “total respect” for the bloc’s system of agricultural subsidies.Vail, Colorado

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