Commission focuses on the extent of trade distortions
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CTA. 2003. Commission focuses on the extent of trade distortions. Agritrade, April 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52856
In his meeting with the Chair of the Agricultural negotiations, Stuart...
In his meeting with the Chair of the Agricultural negotiations, Stuart Harbinson, EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler sought to highlight the importance of differentiating between the trade-distorting impact of different forms of agricultural support measures. He expressed the view that the key issue in the negotiations was the direction of movement in the degree of trade distortion arising from agricultural support and not the level of support per se. Commissioner Fischler urged the use of more discerning tools for assessing the trade-distorting impact of different agricultural support tools rather than the simple level of agricultural support and drew attention to the work that the OECD was undertaking on this issue. Commissioner Fischler's remarks were aimed at US agricultural support, which he maintained, was increasing trade-distorting forms of support, while the EU has systematically been shifting to less trade distorting and non-trade-distorting forms of agricultural support (moving from amber box to more blue box measures). The press release of Commissioner Fischler's speech following his meeting with Stuart Harbinson provides a number of graphics in PDF format setting out the EU's case. Comment: To a certain extent the extent of trade distortion is an academic point. From an ACP perspective the issue is simple enough: do EU agricultural-support programmes allow EU companies to win markets from ACP producers which they would not otherwise be able to supply in the absence of agricultural support (either because they could not compete on price, or because there would be a lower level of total EU production). If WTO rules tolerate EU agricultural-aid instruments which are judged less trade-distorting than US agricultural-aid instruments, yet this still allows EU companies to win markets away from ACP producers, then the new WTO rules on agricultural support bring no material benefits to ACP countries. This forms part of the EU's efforts to secure international recognition of the definitions it is using of what are trade distorting, less trade distorting and non-trade distorting forms of support. It should be borne in mind that these EU definitions do not always accurately reflect the trade impact of individual measures.