PositionDoha trade talks, European Union's plans

Its countdown time for the Doha trade talks. EU energies are now focused on tilting the probabilities towards success. This bid to free up world trade further is doomed if no result emerges by this month's deadline.

So EU Trade Ministers on Sunday night and EU Foreign Ministers on Monday will review the prospects. EU negotiators are also going to be hard at work in Paris over the weekend with their counterparts from key large nations, and will be travelling on to Mauritius next week to meet the G-90 group of poor countries.

The battle-lines are already drawn. The EU has set out its offer: some big concessions, particularly on export subsidies for agriculture, in the hope of eliciting some smaller concessions on market access from trading partners.

This time the EU and the US are working together. But they will have to prise Brazil and India out of the tightly-knit G-20 group of more prosperous developing countries, which continues to resist the rich nations' overtures.

The issues are big enough in their own right. Should free trade predominate over protectionism? Can rich and poor nations benefit equally from the Doha Agenda? Or are the interests of North and South mutually exclusive?

But there are important EU...

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