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U.S. Offers Deeper Subsidy Cuts

Ag secretary and trade representative make comments in Australia about getting WTO negotiations back on track.

Stalled World Trade Organization talks have taken center stage at this week's meeting of the Cairns Group in Australia. Efforts to get all parties back to the table - especially the European Union and the United States - have taken a priority as world trade leaders gather for the Cairns Group event. The Cairns Group includes 18 ag exporting nations.

According to press reports from that meeting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab have said the Bush administration is willing to offer even more cuts in crop supports to get talks restarted. The U.S. has already offered a world-leadership role in subsidy cuts at the talks, this latest news shows the administration is leaning toward slicing more from crop programs.

However, Johanns and Schwab were adamant that Europe must be part of those talks and make substantial cuts as well - especially in high import tariffs - if the Doha round of WTO talks have a chance at a restart.

The U.S. delegation says it has always noted its programs were negotiable, and more cuts could come. However, Schwab told one Australian news agency that further cuts would one come if there was significantly more market access offered.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson is slated to travel to the  United States next week for further talks.

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