WTO unveils latest Doha food deal

The wholesale cutting of import duties on meat and meat products worldwide and the reduction of production subsidies have moved a step closer.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has released its latest draft proposal for a food trade liberalisation deal. A milestone within the WTO's Doha Development Round, the draft ends years of food-focused talks. Now, diplomats will debate an overall deal, trading off concessions regarding food for market openings in industrial goods and services.

Examining the proposed figures on food subsidy and tariff caps, however, there has been no progress - these remain as they were in last year's draft and include stiff cuts. But the proposal has far more detail on the special sensitive products that importing countries can still protect with unusually high tariffs. And it also details the kinds of subsidies (price- and production-linked or free-standing) that must be cut and by how much.

Food talks chairman Crawford Falconer said the drafts were drawn from WTO member governments' positions over several months of the negotiations.

These will now continue, with the aim of reaching a final WTO deal, covering all economic sectors, by this July.