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WTO trade talks, a challenge for agriculture


The successful launch of the new round of world trade talks is good news for the economies of the UK, the European Union and the world but will undoubtedly pose challenges for agriculture, the UK National Farmers Union said in statement on Thursday. NFU officials returned from observing at firsthand the six-day World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha in the Gulf state of Qatar. The meeting agreed to launch a new series of talks on liberalisation of the world economy - with the opening up of agricultural markets and the reduction of farming subsidies a key area of discussion. The long-term talks are not likely to conclude until 2005. NFU Policy Director Martin Haworth said: "There will undoubtedly be many challenges and difficulties ahead for agriculture under this fresh WTO round. "But it is important to remember that this is just the start of the talks - it will be the result that matters. "Talk about the death of the Common Agriculture Policy is premature but great changes are of course already happening with reform in some areas more advanced than in others. For this reason, EU will need to ensure there is some flexibility. "Given the long-term nature of the talks, this reinforces the NFU view that the next major CAP Reform will be in 2005/06. EU enlargement will clearly be another important factor in this." The NFU added that it is good that non-trade concerns have been recognised in the declaration, giving Europe a basis on which to argue on issues like food safety and animal welfare.

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