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WTO Pacts will affect policies of many developed countries
Lloyd's List, August 5, 2004
The changes would occur as part of agreements to cut export subsidies on farm products, cut import duties on farm products and prevent state trading enterprises from continuing trade- distorting activities.

The proposals in Geneva came at a revival of talks abandoned at the Doha trade round of the WTO meeting at Cancun in Mexico last year. Those talks collapsed due to disagreements between member nations - primarily America and Europe.

One of the areas that was labelled as in need of change was the Canadian Wheat Board. The trading enterprise at present holds a monopoly on all the wheat exported out of the country, making it competitive in the international market. The CWB has come under attack in the past for what were called trade distorting practices.

The agreement states elimination of export subsidies and other forms of export support given by the government, taking place with a 'down-payment' that would see a 20% reduction in the maximum payments permitted by developed countries.

This will mean the EU, the US, Canada and Australia will all have to change their export policies.

However, although most countries are happy with the results, Canadian trade will undergo major changes that concern Jim Peterson, Canada's Minister of Trade.

Ken Ritter, the chairman of the CWB, says: "The agreement was developed by the US, the EU and Australia. They are our big three competitors, I'm quite sure they weren't developing a section to help Canadians out.

"We know very well that it's huge transnational exporters that really have the biggest problem with the CWB. Quite frankly, in international markets, we are out-competing them."

Andy Mitchell, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture, is quick to defend the CWB's export practices.
He says: "The position of Canada is that the wheat board does not operate in such a manner, that its actions are not trade distorting."

Developing countries are looking forward to these changes, which will level the playing field with the big players in the business.

However, while these new rules would allow increased exports due to lower duties, they also have the backlash of a threat of massive imports.

Despite what appears to be a new era in trade agreements between countries, experts are quick to point out that the effects of the agreement will not have an immediate impact on world trade.

They point out that only the framework and guidelines have been agreed to and the formal agreement, which will put these new rules into action, will be negotiated next year or even as late as 2007.
MGR Archive 7.8.2004
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