Mandelson: 'I don't believe in a free market in agriculture'

Original Publication Date: 
29 Novembre, 2005

Mandelson: "I don't believe in a free market in agriculture," he said."If we had a free market ... we'd be in the hands of a relatively small number of producers who could hold us hostage."

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said yesterday the EU wasn't prepared to accept "extravagant demands" from trade partners who want further tariff reductions before a world trade summit next month, the Associated Press news service reported from Brussels (see related report this issue). "We aren't prepared to accept the extravagant demands of Brazil and the G20, the Cairns Group of countries, including Australia, or the US itself," Mandelson told EU lawmakers.

He warned other countries that more obstacles at the World Trade Organization talks would risk "everything, including what is on the table already. Europe occupies a middle ground on tariff reduction. I don't believe the US offer on domestic support and farm subsidies have gone as far as they should." He told the European Parliament's agriculture committee that the US offer on food aid and export credits didn't meet commitments made last summer.

Mandelson said developing countries were unrealistic to expect total free trade for farm products. "I don't believe in a free market in agriculture," he said. "If we had a free market ... we'd be in the hands of a relatively small number of producers who could hold us hostage."

The European Union needs to offer more compensation to countries hit by its new sugar production reforms or their frustration could affect global trade talks, New Zealand's prime minister said yesterday according to a Reuters news service report from Brussels. Helen Clark said representatives of some sugar-producing countries, especially in the Caribbean, had complained at a recent meeting of Commonwealth states they saw little point in joining the push for a new World Trade Organization deal. "Do we want sugar to scuttle the negotiations? I don't think so," she said. "I believe some further compensation will be needed."