WTO: The US Demands Poor Countries To 'pay' For Agricultural Subsidy Reduction

11 September, 2003
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WTO: The US demands poor countries to "pay" for agricultural subsidy reduction

Cancun, September 12 - (by Roberto Bissio - TWN ) -- The US delegation shocked trade negotiators at the WTO ministerial meeting yesterday by demanding from poor countries that they "compensate" any eventual reduction in its agricultural subsidies with access to their markets for American farm products.

"This is an outrageous requests that completely subverts the logic of trade negotiations so far" commented a senior Latin American negotiator. Developing countries have considered the common US- European proposal on agriculture as below their expectations and demand a major reduction and eventual end to the rich nations practice of subdizing their agricultural products as an essential part of an agricultural agreement. Progress in agriculture would allow for developing countries to make some concession in other areas of interest to developed countries, such as non-agriculture products, where poor countries are being asked to lower their import tariffs.

Yet, instead of following the logic of negotiating what "progress" in other areas would justifiy for the US to lower their agricultural subsidies, the American negotiators told the agriculture group on Thursday that "balance" should be achieved within the agriculture negotiations themselves. If the US "give" a subsidy reduction the developing countries should "give" an equivalent market access to American farm products, independent of any agreement eventually reached in the other negotiating groups.

Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said that this demand for "compensation" is completely unacceptable and reminded the negociators that developing countries already "paid" a high price in previous trade negotiations in order to put agriculture in the WTO agenda. With this demand, the US are not only blockading an agriculture agreement, a Brazilian diplomat commented, but they are also depriving the developing countries of any motivation to make efforts in other areas of negotiations or to decide to start negotiations on new issues.


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