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US farmers agree to tariff cuts if world markets are opened

Wednesday, November 28th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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A long-awaited world trade deal will remain out of reach until developing countries agree to open their markets to more United States farm goods, the head of the largest US farm organization said yesterday.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the talks are stuck because many developing countries want the United States to reduce its farm subsidies without cutting their tariffs in return. The world trade talks, launched six years ago in the capital city of Qatar, are officially known as the Doha Development Agenda because of their emphasis on using trade reform to help lift countries out of poverty. "But too many developing countries decided 'Oh, this is a free ride for us. We're going to get something and we're not going to have to give up anything in return.' That's problem number one" with the negotiations, Stallman said in a speech to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. The United States is under pressure from developing countries like Brazil and India in the World Trade Organization talks to cap its annual spending on trade-distorting farm subsidies at 13 billion US dollars. Washington spent 18.9 billion on those programs in 2005, although the exact level varies from year to year. "Unfortunately some countries that want us to get down to a cap of 13 billion ... haven't been willing to lower tariffs sufficiently to offset that from an economic perspective," Stallman told reporters after the speech. "We have to secure a deal that balances whatever we give up in our domestic supports under our farm program in return for increased market access," Stallman said. The chairman of the World Trade Organization's agricultural negotiating group is expected to release a new draft text soon that could become the basis for final negotiations. Countries also are trying to reach accords on opening industrial goods and services market to more trade around the world.

Categories: Economy, United States.

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