Thursday, August 14, 2003

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Uncertain progress on agricultural subsidies

I was going write a long post on the U.S.-E.U. deal on reducing agricultural subsidies, but Jacob Levy and Peter Gallagher beat me to the punch. They are both pessimistic. Gallagher writes:

The 'deal' has few agreed details; it's mainly structural. But the structure is enough to show that what the two sides have in mind could easily turn out to be tailored protection for so-called sensitive products rather than the forthright reforms to world food markets that the 145 Members of WTO agreed to come up with two years ago. (emphasis in original)

The Economist is also pessimistic, pointing out the lack of transparency in the agreement.

I've been pessimistic about the lack of progress on this issue, so just to be contrary, let me sound one note of optimism: even the EU negotiator recognizes that more will have to be done:

"It's not a question of take it or leave it, but you've got to start somewhere in these things,'' said Eric Mamer, an EU spokesman.

"What the WTO asked the United States and the European Union to do was to come forward with a proposal, a sort of common vision of where things would be going,'' he said. "It's elements in which we agree ... (but) we're at the beginning of a process, not at the end.''....

Mamer stressed the EU-U.S. agreement was ``clearly not'' a ``fixed deal,'' but a basis for future negotiations.

The analysis in the Economist makes the same point:

This pact is not so much a trade deal as it is a signal that the EU and the United States are not yet willing to give up on the Doha round. After the American farm bill last year, and the EU’s anaemic efforts to reform its common agricultural policy, the Doha round had looked set to fail. Don’t cancel your tickets to Cancún just yet, is the unstated but substantive message of this pact.


posted by Dan on 08.14.03 at 10:57 AM