DAVOS (Switzerland), Jan 29 (AFP): The European Union is looking for "an incentive" to show flexibility in global trade talks, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said yesterday after a restricted meeting of key WTO members.
The EU last year made an offer to cut agricultural import tariffs that has been criticised as inadequate by the G20 group of developing countries and the United States.
Mandelson told journalists after a meeting of 19 World Trade Organisation members in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos that he was still looking for more from his rivals in the four-year- old talks.
"If others want Europe to show more flexibility eventually - as we want the US to make a full offer on farm subsidies, which they have not yet done-then Europe needs an incentive to show that flexibility," he said.
Mandelson reiterated that he wanted "a much clearer" picture of cuts envisaged by other countries in import tariffs on industrial goods and a sense that "genuine plurilateral negotiations" on services were getting under way.
"At the moment there is a marked imbalance in what's on the table," he added during a press conference at the World Economic Forum.
"We need to have a much clearer sense of what is going to be put on the table on non-agricultural market access. We have no idea at the moment, no picture at all, so we need progress on that."
The EU, United States and developing countries are still at loggerheads in the trade talks, which face a year-end deadline for an agreement on breaking down barriers to free trade in some sectors of the economy.
Brazil, one of the top G20 states, signalled that a better EU offer on farm import tariff reductions did not necessarily have to match the levels of the US offer of an average 75 per cent cut.
"The closer the European Union can come to the G20 proposal, 54 per cent on market access... the more likely we are to get an effective reduction," Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said.
The EU has made an offer that Brazil regards as equivalent to a cut of about 39 per cent in farm import tariffs.
During a public debate at the Forum, Mandelson told his counterparts that they should not expect to achieve in one round of trade talks on agriculture the kind of liberalisation that took 40 years to complete in industry.