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US farm bill condemned

Wednesday, May 15th 2002 - 21:00 UTC
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The Cairns Group, Mercosur and other Latinamerican countries highly dependent on agricultural commodities condemned United States for a bill that will hand out 190 billion US dollars to US farmers during the next ten years.

"The impact will be particularly damaging to developing countries, many of which are highly reliant on their agricultural sectors for their economic development", reads a statement from the Cairns Group that includes 18 countries among which Australia, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa.

The legislation virtually increases US farm subsidies 80%, "damaging the international economy" and questioning world efforts to reduce agricultural subsidies.

When signing the bill this week in a White House ceremony President George Bush said it was "a safety net", which was essential to the success of the American economy".

Last November during the World Trade Organization summit in Doha, the 144 participating countries, including the United States adhered to new trade proposals including "a reduction of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies".

"Let's hope that the WTO discussions were the beginning of a process to ensure free trade both ways, with fair rules and profits that help reverse the current situation where the incompetence of some, particularly in agriculture, prevails over the interests of the majority", remarked Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso.

Brazil anticipated it was taking its disputes over soybeans with the United States and sugar with the European Union to the WTO.

Sergio Amaral, Minister of Industry and Trade warned that Brazil was considering giving priority to bilateral and multilateral agreements with other Latinamerican countries instead of the US sponsored Free Trade Association of the Americas scheduled to become operational in 2005.

"US preaches free trade all over the world but when its interests are at stake they convert themselves into obscene protectionists", underlined Argentine president Eduardo Duhalde

The Argentine Embassy in Washington estimates that the new US subsidies will cost Argentina 1,4 billion US dollars annually in exports.

"We call on the United States to demonstrate the necessary leadership for the attainment of an ambitious and comprehensive program of agricultural liberalization and reform in the current WTO negotiations", said the Cairns Group in an official statement.

Categories: Mercosur.

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