Friday, March 10, 2006

Agricultural Subsidies Still Stalling Talks

"Trade Chiefs Hope to Revive Talks"
BBC News
March 10, 2006

Also refer to a speech by E.U. Trade Commissioner Mandelson:

An October 27, 2005 posting ("An Update on Agricultural Subsidies") summarized the ongoing trade dispute arising out of American and European hesitance to discontinue use of certain agricultural subsidies. This disagreement is stalling a global trade treaty; the roadmap for this treaty is scheduled to be completed by April 2006. At the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, WTO members agreed to discontinue use of all farm export subsidies by 2013. But, the U.S. and E.U. argue that they will not eliminate their domestic subsidies and agricultural import tariffs.

Negotiators met again this week in London to address these conflicts. Reports suggest that the tone of these talks is not hopeful. The E.U. External Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, appears unwavering. He is quoted as saying, "Our job is to build consensus in order to help the wider membership of the WTO to reach agreement later on."

Would complete elimination of these subsidies be too much to ask of the U.S. and E.U.? Mandelson has argued, "I want to make world poverty history but trade justice cannot be equated with big bang agricultural liberalisation, and with it, a race to the bottom for E.U. agriculture and a free market mayhem that would gravely damage the interests of some of the poorest countries in the world." Does he make a good point?

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