European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy expressed mixed views Friday on calls from Japan and other Asian nations to have the World Trade Organization take up antidumping issues in the upcoming round of trade liberalization negotiations.

The new round of trade talks is scheduled to start with a ministerial summit in Seattle later this month.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Lamy said the European Union is considering putting antidumping on the agenda for the WTO Seattle round to see if the existing rules are being properly implemented.

The EU has been concerned about the increasing use of antidumping and protectionism measures by some countries.

While Japan and other Asian economies are proposing strengthening the rules to avoid what Japan terms “overuse” of antidumping measures, the United States is opposing inclusion of antidumping in the WTO agenda. Lamy said the EU position is “in the middle of the road.”

“On one side, we’d not like the whole of antidumping regulations to be renegotiated, because this would be opening of Pandora’s box. But on the other side, we agree that reviewing the way these rules are implemented is something we believe would be of our interest,” he said.

On agriculture, Lamy reiterated the EU’s united front with Japan against the Cairns Group of aggressive liberalization advocates, to support the newly coined principle of “multifunctionality” of agriculture.

“It’s a way of saying agriculture has diverse functions,” Lamy said. “Some of them have to do with market, and others have to do with environment, society, food safety, and food security. So we support that concept.”

On the EU’s ongoing negotiations with China over its entry to the WTO, Lamy said, “Having China into the WTO is a major objective for us.”

However, the EU is giving greater heed to the substance of bilateral agreements rather than the timing of the accession, given the size of the Chinese economy and importance of China’s transition toward a market economy, he said.

Lamy underscored the importance of Japan and the EU continuing to “work harder” before and throughout the WTO millennium round in order to encourage other WTO economies to overcome diverging views regarding the scope of the negotiations.

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