Oilseeds deal boost for Gatt

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The Independent Online
A WORLD trade pact came a step closer last night after the European Community agreed a crucial deal with the United States.

The US-EC agreement on oilseeds, part of a broader farm trade package struck last year, had been blocked by French objections. But after concessions were made by agriculture ministers these were lifted. EC foreign ministers meeting yesterday in Luxembourg nodded the agreement through.

But a final resolution of the six-year- old negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is still a long way off. France continues to express reservations over the Blair House deal, as the US-EC agreement was called, which covers farm trade. Edouard Balladur, France's Prime Minister, visits Brussels today to discuss his views on trade with the European Commission.

After the recent meeting of the EC, US, Japan and Canada, trade officials are pressing to get an important part of the Gatt talks polished off before the meeting of the Group of Seven industrialised nations in Tokyo next month. They then hope to return to the multilateral level in Geneva, the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, said yesterday.

EC foreign ministers also approved a Commission plan to apply counter-measures worth about dollars 15m a year in retaliation to US public procurement sanctions announced two weeks ago to the value of dollars 20m.