WTO - A Lost Opportunity

The meat industry has been left in a period of uncertainty, following the collapse of the Doha round of world trade talks, the EU agriculture minister told delegates at the World Meat Congress.

Marian Fischer Boel said the collapse of the talks was a "huge lost opportunity". She acknowledged there were some in the meat industry who were nervous about what a successful outcome would mean, but said trade liberalisation, while mainly benefiting developing countries, would have benefits for all. The failure of the talks had simply clouded the future, she said. "All of this means huge unpredictability - and predictability and stability are things the meat industry has always appreciated."

Philip Green, the Australian high commissioner for South Africa, also called for the talks to get back on track. He said much progress has been made in the Doha talks and it would be a "huge mistake to give up now".

Fischer Boel also highlighted the issue of trade barriers and called on countries to stop using "food safety issues as a smokescreen for protectionism - this is not what the meat trade needs".

She defended the EU's own import standards: "Everyone who wants to export has to meet our safety standards. Those standards are not arbitrary nor were they dreamed up as a barrier to trade.

"Every country must apply rules, but won't be a problem if they're reasonable, transparent and consistent."

Her comments were echoed by the Inácio Afonso Kroet, Brazilian Vice-Minister of Animals and Plant Health & Inspection, who said despite their efforts to eradicate disease, they were still being kept out of export markets. "We want free and clear rules," he told delegates.