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Moore hits at Norway's protectionism

Mike Moore, head of the World Trade Organization, made it clear on Tuesday that Norway is going to have to make more reforms in its protectionist agriculture industry. Moore was in Oslo to speak at an annual business conference.

Moore was invited to join a long list of speakers at the conference sponsored by Norway's major employers' group, NHO. He comes from a country about the size of Norway, New Zealand, which has an important agriculture industry of its own.

He denied the WTO runs roughshod over poor countries. To the contrary, he claims, the WTO is in a unique position to set a global framework and help poor countries compete with richer ones.

Without that, he said, only the strong would survive.

He said that in the next round of WTO-sponsored trade talks, the thorny issue of agriculture subsidies will top the agenda. And Norway, he said, will be under pressure to make concessions and ease its own rate of subsidy.

The problem, he said, is that countries like Norway can't expect to be allowed to freely sell their products, like fish, to other countries, and yet restrict access to their own markets of imports such as fruit and vegetables to protect domestic agriculture.

It all hangs together, Moore said.

A group of demonostrators protested globalization outside the SAS hotel in Oslo where the conference was being held.