US-EU trade pact could be sunk by farm wars
Following the US elections, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht has sought to revitalise talks on a comprehensive bilateral trade deal between Europe and the EU. It reflects a growing recognition that nothing is going to come out of the Doha Round.
However, there is a long history of 'farm wars' between the EU and the US on everything ranging from chickens through pasta to beef hormones. The dispute on GM crops has been particularly troublesome as it is a subject of concern to many EU citizens.
The EU would like to eliminate agricultural tariffs as part of any deal, but Mr De Gucht admitted, 'Access to our agricultural markets will be one of the bones of contention.'
Although US trade supremeo Ron Kirk appears to take the idea seriously, and it has the backing of business interests in the States, it is less clear whether it has the high level political backing necessary for success. President Obama is not known for his interest in relations with Europe and did not give a lot of impetus to trade policy in his first term..