The CIAA, which represents European food and beverage industries, said that the strong support expressed by Ministers at the recent World Economic Forum meeting could mean that trade partners could come back to the negotiating table before long.
"For CIAA, concluding a balanced agreement before the end of 2007 remains a priority," said the association in a release.
"Considering the process of reform undertaken by the EU, there is a clear need for main trade partners to agree as well on new disciplines which provide for increased export competition and reduced levels of domestic support through a multilateral negotiation process. These cannot be achieved by bilateral agreements alone."
CIAA argues that this constructive mode must now lead to progress on key issues. For the EU food and drink industry, the outlook on what other trade partners will put on the negotiating table will be critical, in particular on domestic support disciplines (notably counter-cyclical and loan deficiency payments), market access and export competition commitments (export credits, STEs, food aid and differential export taxes), but also on other negotiation issues.
"The negotiations must still deliver the gains for the EU food and drink industry businesses," said the CIAA. "As regards the important issue of market access, CIAA has always agreed with special and differential treatment, however, questions have arisen on the amount and the extent of carve outs drafted for developing countries."
The association said that US farm bill proposals seem at first sight to fall somewhat short of expected ambitions to signal a real policy change. However, it said further steps should not be precluded by these initial proposals.
"CIAA is confident that following the recent suspension of negotiations, that there is a clearer understanding of the dangers of missing an opportunity of concluding an agriculture agreement, and hence, overall more willingness to compromise for a balanced agreement," said the association.