US fight for fair trade

10 May 2002

US fight for fair trade

US policy makers are determined to fight for improved market access for their farmers, despite having just agreed a massive increase in their own domestic support measures.

Addressing the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade in Ottawa, Canada this week, US farm secretary, Ann Veneman, said that "expanding access to growing markets with freer and fairer trade is the best alternative we have for a robust and dynamic agriculture".

"I want to make one thing perfectly clear," she said. "We remain committed to aggressively pursue trade reform in the Doha Round (of the World Trade Organisation talks)."

Last week the US House of Representatives signed off a new Farm Bill that will stuff an extra $45bn (£31bn) into farmers pockets over the next six years, a rise of 62% on what they currently get. Much of this will be triggered as market prices fall.

But Ms Veneman insists these aids are not trade distorting and are compatible with the USs WTO commitments.

"The support is not much different to what has been provided to our farmers for the past several years. Our early analysis indicates that this Farm Bill will be consistent with our international obligations."

But EU farm organisation, COPA, has attacked the US for its double standards and says the new Farm Bill is strongly trade distorting.

"The new measures will totally shield US producers from market signals," said president, Gerhard Sonnleitner. "It will encourage US producers to increase their production and their exports even at times of depressed world prices when all other producers are having to cut back.

"This goes right against the efforts EU farmers have made over the past decade to stabilise production through partially compensated price cuts and supply management measures." &#42

Philip Clarke

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