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7-Business: U.S. threatens plans to stop agricultural subsidies



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TITLE:  US threatens to sink French plan to stop the West undercutting
        African farmers
SOURCE: The Independent, UK, by Andy McSmith
        http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/story.jsp?story=411560
DATE:   June 2, 2003

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Dear GENET-news readers,

this message does not deal with GE directly but adds a lot of information
to the messages about the WTO GMO complaint of the U.S.:
    The US spends between $3bn (1.8bn) and $4bn a year subsidising 25,000
    American cotton farmers - more than its annual aid budget to the entire
    African continent - flooding the world market with cheap cotton, while
    in west Africa, 10 million people rely on cotton growing for their
    livelihood. [...] The European Union is also guilty of undercutting
    African farmers, through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), turning
    Europeinto the world's biggest exporter of white sugar, with disastrous
    results in countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, which are
    in effect locked out of the European market. [...] The French President,
    Jacques Chirac, has proposed a moratorium on all subsidies of produce
    that are sold in Africa, which could go a long way towards enabling
    African farmers to achieve self-sufficiency. But the plan has had a
    frigid reception in Washington. The US says its export credits should
    be exempt.

Regards,
Hartmut Meyer

*****

US threatens to sink French plan to stop the West undercutting African farmers

Poltical fallout from the Iraq war is threatening catastrophe for
millions of farmers in Africa, because the Americans may torpedo a French
plan to ban the dumping of subsidised farm produce in African markets.

British diplomats have been working frantically to bridge the gap, in the
hope of keeping alive the plan, which has Tony Blair's personal backing.

The US spends between $3bn (1.8bn) and $4bn a year subsidising 25,000
American cotton farmers - more than its annual aid budget to the entire
African continent - flooding the world market with cheap cotton, while in
west Africa, 10 million people rely on cotton growing for their
livelihood. A typical small farmer will make about $300 a year.

The European Union is also guilty of undercutting African farmers,
through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), turning Europe into the
world's biggest exporter of white sugar, with disastrous results in
countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, which are in effect
locked out of the European market. The EU also dumps subsidised milk and
wheat on markets from Kenya to Senegal, while restricting imports of
African produce.

The French President, Jacques Chirac, has proposed a moratorium on all
subsidies of produce that are sold in Africa, which could go a long way
towards enabling African farmers to achieve self-sufficiency. But the
plan has had a frigid reception in Washington. The US says its export
credits should be exempt.

The American reaction is a striking departure from the normal courtesies
of G8 summits, in which the host nation usually puts up proposals and the
following year's host nation - in this case the US - promises to follow
them up.

By contrast, President Chirac's proposal has been given enthusiastic
public support by Mr Blair, not only because it will benefit Africa, but
because Britain has been pushing for reform of the CAP against French
resistance. He has promised that the idea will be followed up when the
British host the 2005 G8 summit.

Justin Forsyth, of Oxfam, said: "This proposal is a casualty of the Iraq
war. The Americans don't want a specific focus on Africa and they don't
want to support a French proposal."

Jeremy Haywood, Mr Blair's private secretary, has been working behind the
scenes for days in the hope of brokering an agreement between the
Americans and the French. Yesterday, British officials said they were
"hopeful" of a deal.

There was also a veiled warning to the Americans yesterday from Patricia
Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, who told Radio 4's The World
This Weekend programme: "The countries of the developed world really
cannot go on preaching free trade abroad and practising protectionism at
home. What I hope will happen at this G8 meeting is that the G8 countries
together, faced with this demand - quite rightly - from Africa and the
rest of the poor world, will reaffirm their commitment to creating rules
for trade that are not only free but fair."

Meanwhile, British diplomats have helped to secure an agreement to fight
corruption in Africa. Companies that extract oil and minerals will have
to publish the full details of deals they strike with the relevant
governments.

This follows a series of allegations that money from extraction rights
has been siphoned off into private bank accounts. A dispute about whether
the rules should be compulsory or voluntary was settled under a
compromise deal that says governments will have the option of whether to
sign up to the agreement or not, but companies will be bound by their
government's policy. Supporters of the deal say that it will work
provided a "critical mass" of the richest nations joins up.




--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

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