EU trade chief lashes out at US 'protectionism'

BRUSSELS, March 18, 2010 (AFP) - EU trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, on Thursday accused US President Barack Obama's administration of having a "protectionist" agenda, blaming Washington for holding up a global free-trade deal.

"One of the problems is that we don't know exactly what the United States wants. They don't want to go forward for now, that much is clear," he said of the decade-old Doha round in World Trade Organization negotiations, in an interview with Belgian business daily De Tijd.

"The idea that you can make progress without making concessions is false," he added of negotiations with developing countries. "I have the impression that the decision-making process has ground to a halt."

De Gucht said that US Congressional elections in November were partly to blame, but took direct aim at Obama over a commitment to double US exports over five years.

"I don't see how anyone can double exports if there's no movement towards free trade," he said.

"Protectionism will not lead to a doubling of exports."

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