U.S. trade representative Rob Portman offered a proposal Monday that would cut tariffs on imported farm goods and lower subsidies to
The EU "uses about three times more support than we do," he says. "The ratio needs to be about two to one to be rational, balanced and practical."
According to the offer, the
The next step is for the EU to match the
WTO director-general Pascal Lamy has said the EU and the United States will have to make adjustments in agriculture policy if progress is to be made in the present round of global trade talks, which is already well behind an original December 2004 deadline.
Lamy believes the EU needs to open its market more to foreign producers while the
EU farm reforms adopted in 2003 will convert the bulk of the bloc's production subsidies into animal-welfare and environmental-management grants to farmers - deemed far less trade-distorting under WTO rules.
Washington's trade partners say the cuts they are seeking would mean changes to the 2002 U.S. farm bill, which comes up for renewal in 2007. After that, a new global trade treaty would be harder to negotiate, diplomats say.