UK trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has promised to put the interests of developing countries ahead of those of British farmers in the upcoming around of global trade talks.

Sugar workers in El Salvador and other countries suffer because of EU subsidies for marginal production, reported the Guardian. Hewitt said that if global tariffs were halved, poor countries would benefit to the tune of US$150bn per annum, three times what they get from aid. The trade secretary will today [Monday] call for and end to EU sugar subsidies, which she terms "scandalous".

"Since 1995, the EU has spent approximately €1.25bn (US$1.44bn) a year subsidising sugar exports," Hewitt is expected to say. "The system is so distorting that it pays a country like Finland to actually produce sugar."

Hewitt can expect a backlash from the sugar industry, which is one of the most highly subsidised sectors in EU agriculture.