US, EU have to settle for less in Doha-Mandelson

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WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) A ''substantial'' new world trade deal is within reach after six years of talks, but both the United States and the European Union will have to settle for less than they wanted, the EU's top trade official said today.

''After six years, there is more or less a deal on the table. It is substantial and valuable,'' EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said in the prepared text of a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

''It is not ideal for anyone, and less in important respects than both Europe and America had originally hoped for ... There are no overwhelming negotiating triumphs to be brought home from the conference room,'' Mandelson said.

But the alternative - allowing the Doha round to be the first set of world trade talks to fail - is unacceptable because of the damage it would do to confidence in the international trading system, Mandelson said.

Mandelson's admission that countries have to lower their sights in the talks comes just a few days after World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy advised against prolonging the negotiations into 2008.

It follows subdued comments from President George W. Bush on Tuesday, who said the United States was committed to reaching a ''positive'' deal and all it asked was to be treated fairly.

Next week is the sixth anniversary of the launch of the negotiations in Doha, Qatar, with the goal of helping alleviate poverty through trade liberalization.

After years of only incremental progress in the talks, the chairman of the agricultural negotiating group in Geneva has been struggling to put together a compromise on cutting farm subsidies and tariffs that could clear the way for deals on opening manufactured goods and services markets.

Many experts think a final deal requires the United States to make deep cuts in its domestic farm subsidies, the EU to make deep cuts in its farm subsidies and tariffs and advanced developing countries like Brazil and India to open their markets to more imported farm and manufacturing goods.

The United States and the EU, as well as India and others in the negotiations, also want to tear down foreign barriers to their service industry companies.

The deal on the table provides substantial and valuable new business opportunities for ''European export industries; for American farmers; for Brazilian ranchers; for Indian service providers; (and) for the economic development of the poorest countries,'' Mandelson said.

It also would shore up the world trading system by locking in the unilateral market openings that emerging economies and others have made over the last ten years, he said.


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