|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.39, 25.10.01, p12|
EFFORTS by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to scrap the EU's 5-billion euro-per-year export refunds regime are coming under fierce attack by farm chief Franz Fischler.
The Austrian commissioner has expressed dissatisfaction with a key measure in the proposed agenda for the round of talks on trade liberalisation, which the WTO hopes to launch at next month's ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar.
Known as the 'Harbison draft', it recommends there should be a discussion on phasing out export subsidies for agricultural products. "We consider this as indicating a commitment to eliminate such subsidies," said Fischler. "We cannot accept such pre-negotiation of an outcome which is entirely unacceptable for us."
Last weekend Fischler warned that Doha should avoid repeating the experience of the organisation's 1999 conference in Seattle, where attempts to kick-start the "millennium round" collapsed. "The huge mistake of Seattle was that some parties tried to get an agreement on the outcome of the negotiations," he commented. "We should instead concentrate on the real issues: an agreement for launching a comprehensive round and a clear timetable for it."
The Commission contends that it is wrong to target export refunds in isolation from other subsidies which distort trade, particularly the US practice of granting long-term credit to exporters of farm produce and its tendency to use food aid to poorer countries as a means of disposing of food that won't be consumed domestically. "The US gives in excess of $3 billion (€3.4 billion) in export credits per year, whereas the EU only gives a fraction of that amount," explained one Commission official. "The US is not disciplined in any way in this respect. "We also consider that the way US food aid rises when they have surpluses at home means that it is not genuine food aid from a humanitarian point of view."
Efforts by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to scrap the EU's 5-billion euro-per-year export refunds regime are coming under fierce attack by Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|