US offers new farm subsidy cuts, urges others to follow

July 22nd, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 22 (Xinhua) The US offered Tuesday to cut its farm subsidies to $15 billion and said it expects other members of the World Trade Organisastion (WTO) will undertake similar measures to ensure the success of the Doha Round of trade negotiations. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced the offer at a WTO ministerial meeting here aimed at achieving a breakthrough in the long-stalled trade talks.

The US offer falls within the range of WTO proposals, which require the US to cut farm subsidies to a range of $13 billion to $16.4 billion a year from a current ceiling of $48.2 billion.

However, other WTO members have said that the US should offer more cuts, given the current high food prices.

The Doha Round, formally known as the Doha Development Agenda, was launched with the aim of reducing global trade barriers and help poor countries achieve economic development.

It has missed all previous deadlines for conclusion, mainly because of differences between developed and developing WTO member countries on agricultural subsidies and industrial tariffs.

Rich countries like the United States are under pressure to cut substantially its huge farm subsidies, which developing countries say are distorting world trade.

Developing nations also want greater access to markets in rich countries for their agricultural products.

In return, industrialised countries are demanding a better deal for their manufactured goods in developing markets.

Sharply rising prices for food and energy, rapidly decelerating economic growth and instability in international markets have raised concern in all corners of the world, WTO chief Pascal Lamy Monday said in a statement.

“Striking a deal in the coming days would send a signal to the world that working together we can address these problems,” he said.

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