20 September 2000
Fischler slams ‘uncontrolled’ trade aid

By Philip Clarke

BRUSSELS has launched a stinging attack on export credits, marketing boards and other forms of “trade aid” used by the USA and Cairns group countries.

This comes ahead of fresh talks on trade liberalisation at the World Trade Organisation.

The paper, which will be presented to the WTOs agriculture committee next week, highlights the unequal treatment of different support mechanisms.

“The EUs export refunds are the only measure which has been strictly limited under WTO rules,” said EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler.

“This is inconsistent. Whether it is export credits, food aid or state trading enterprises, any measure can be used to distort trade.

“Although they may be used in a manner which is insidious, less transparent and more distorting than export refunds, they are totally uncontrolled.”

Dr Fischler said he was prepared to see some further reduction in the EU subsidy programme, even though total expenditure in this area was well below WTO limits.

But he said he was “not prepared for unilateral disarmament”.

Export subsidies, used by the EU to keep its higher-priced foods competitive in world markets, have been the subject of consistent sniping from the USA and the Cairns group.

The USA and the Cairns group want further cuts from the next WTO round.