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WTO talks failure a "huge relief": Irish minister

Updated:2008-08-01 17:35:13

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The collapse of world trade talks comes as a huge relief to Ireland's farmers, a minister said on Wednesday.

Martin Mansergh, minister of state at Ireland's Department of Finance, also said the European Union needed someone trustworthy to represent it if talks on a trade treaty resume.

Marathon talks on a new global trade pact collapsed on Tuesday as the United States and India refused to compromise over a proposal to help poor farmers deal with floods of imports.

Ireland, worried that cheap imports could endanger its livestock farming, had been among a group of EU states including France which had pressed for better terms at the World Trade Organization talks.

"The breakdown in the WTO talks will be a huge relief to Ireland's hard-pressed farm sector," Mansergh said in a statement.

"Ireland has undoubtedly been a big beneficiary of globalization, but needed a far more balanced outcome than was in prospect on this occasion," he said.

Irish farmers groups have criticized EU trade chief Peter Mandelson for "selling out" during the talks and they also made the WTO a key issue in the campaign for a referendum last month in which Irish voters rejected the EU's reform treaty.

"If and when negotiations resume it is to be hoped that the EU will be represented by a strong commissioner in whom there can be trust," Mansergh said.

More senior Irish ministers had reacted more cautiously to the collapse of the global trade talks, including Deputy Prime Minister Mary Coughlan who said she was disappointed.  Mansergh also said that Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty last month has made it more vulnerable diplomatically.

"The.. outcome of the negotiations underlines the vital importance for Ireland of...maintaining alliances with other key EU countries such as France and Poland, far more effective than prematurely brandishing veto threats," Mansergh said.

Source:http://www.reuters.com

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