Following the failure of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder issued an appeal to all parties concerned to resume talks as soon as possible.
In the course of the conference, held on 10-14 September, the 146 WTO member countries were unable to reach an agreement on reducing and eliminating agricultural subsidies as well as initiating talks on a global investment agreement.
The outcome has important consequences for the global livestock industry as well as meat processors, both within and outwith Europe.
"We regret the fact that it was not possible to achieve a comprehensive agreement at the WTO conference in Cancún," said Schröder, adding that an opportunity had been lost to create global impetus for growth and employment.
The German Chancellor has spoken out in favour of resuming the talks as soon as possible at the senior official level, saying that the possibility should not be ruled out of resuming talks at the ministerial level in the near future. He stated that Germany has a priority interest in eliminating trade barriers in the world.
Emerging countries such as Brazil, India, China, and South Africa as well as agricultural exporters such as Australia have proven to be serious players in the global meat processing market. The high subsidies paid in the United States and the European Union have been criticised for distorting competition, and the EU is seeking a reduction of import tariffs on industrial goods and better protection for foreign investments.
"We were hoping to conclude agreements here that would have led to a gradual reduction of subsidies, particularly in the agricultural sector, and step by step to an opening of markets in Europe and America," said Germany's economics minister Wolfgang Clement. The agriculture minister Renate Künast also expressed her regret at the failure of the talks.
All WTO decisions must be based on a consensus of the members. Since a number of Third World countries withdrew from the negotiations on 14 September, the conference ended without an agreement. Cancún was supposed to produce a progress report and a roadmap for further talks aimed at liberalising world trade.
The next WTO Ministerial Conference is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in 2005.