Dáil Éireann - Volume 674 - 11 February, 2009

Written Answers. - World Trade Talks.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the [608] position regarding the World Trade Organisation; the extent of recent developments; the expected impact on Irish and European food producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5296/09]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: The current position in regard to the WTO negotiations is that talks are stalled following the failure to reach agreement at the Ministerial meeting last July and the decision to defer indefinitely a second Ministerial meeting planned for last December. The World Economic Forum at Davos last month provided no new momentum for the negotiations and the next key event will be the G20 meeting in London in April.

All in all the prospects for agreement are uncertain and therefore it is premature to forecast the expected impact on Irish and European food producers. On the one hand, the new administration in the US, upcoming elections in India, changes in EU Commissioners and the changed economic situation militate against agreement being reached. On the other hand there is the determination of the WTO DG Lamy and a number of WTO members to reach agreement. On balance, it is difficult to see serious negotiations restarting until later this year and any conclusion in 2009.

Against that background I, my officials and my colleagues in Government continue to pursue Ireland’s interests in the negotiations with the Commission and other Member States at every opportunity at coordination meetings in Geneva, at the Article 133 Committee in Brussels and at the recent meeting of Trade Ministers. We want an agreement that is balanced within and between the various negotiating pillars, that delivers real benefits to Ireland and that does not sacrifice our agriculture sector.