EU and U.S. Offer Cuts on Subsidies

Bigger concessions proposed than ever before at WTO meeting.

European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson announced during the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Geneva that the EU would cut tariffs by 60% to encourage developing nations to make bigger concessions. That was followed by U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab saying the United States was willing to cut its trade-distorting subsidies to $15 billion a year, as long as emerging economies such as Brazil, India and China are willing to give greater access to their markets.

The U.S. offer is a cut of $2 billion more than the offer they made last June. Draft texts for the agricultural negotiations have been requesting a cut of trade-distorting subsidies by the U.S. to between $13 and $16.4 billion annually.

During a press conference in Geneva Tuesday, Schwab told reporters that these cuts were not being offered in isolation. "They must be accompanied by significant market opening to agriculture and industrial goods by other WTO members."

According to WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell, negotiators have developed a clearer sense of the key issues at the political level that need to be resolved. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy is moving the meeting toward resolving those issues based on detailed text-based work to find solutions for them. Lamy hopes to have revised proposals released before the end of the week.

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