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EU Skeptical About Agriculture Deal at World Trade Talks

World trade talks formally open Tuesday in Hong Kong, with developing nations demanding a better deal from rich countries on agriculture. However, Europe's trade chief is putting his foot down on the issue, warning a breakthrough this week is unlikely.

Delegates from 149 World Trade Organization economies are trying to spark new life into free trade as talks formally open Tuesday.

U.S Trade Representative Robert Portman says rich countries should make the kinds of concessions on agriculture markets that less developed countries demand. "The United States made a bold agriculture proposal back in October," he said. "It has yet to be matched in boldness by others, including the European Union."

However, European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has all but ruled out a conclusive deal from this week's talks. He says the WTO meeting is focusing too heavily on agriculture, and that the EU will not make any new offers on the issue.

Although the WTO conference does not formally open until Tuesday afternoon, delegates have begun informal talks. They are expected to negotiate nearly around the clock until the meeting ends on Sunday.

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