The World Trade Organization should be able to wrap up its next round of multilateral liberalization talks within three years of its 2000 start, a senior European Union official said Thursday.

“We want a short round. The context is in a sense easy, with frameworks being ready for agriculture and services,” said Herve Jouanjean, director in charge of WTO matters at the European Commission. “A period of three years seems to be appropriate,” he said.

After completing two-day talks Thursday with his Japanese counterparts on the new round of WTO negotiations, Jouanjean said he was pleased that the two sides agreed on a similar approach to the WTO talks.

Jouanjean expressed respect for Japan’s persistent stance against early voluntary sectoral liberalization of fish and wood products under initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. He added the EU “favors global trade negotiations, and doesn’t consider sectoral approaches the best way to meet the needs of all WTO members, developing countries (in particular).”

Asked about Japan’s ongoing deliberations on rice tariffs, Jouanjean said Tokyo informed him Thursday that “they are shifting to tariffication” but that he could not comment without examining the matter.

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