Brazil files WTO complaint against US over agriculture


Brasilia : The Brazilian government has filed a complaint against the US at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the subsidies that Washington granted its agricultural producers from 1999 to 2005.

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Annual subsidies over that period were above the $19 billion which the US is allowed to hand out according to WTO rules, the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo wrote Thursday about the substance of the complaint.

Subsidies in 2006 decreased to some $11 billion. Roberto Azevedo, in charge of economics and technology at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, said the reduction was due to an increase in the price of agricultural products last year.

Azevedo admitted that Brazil’s decision to file the complaint – a move taken Tuesday, according to Brazilian news agency ABR – was made “partly” due to the current impasse at the Doha Round of talks at the WTO.

In the stalled negotiations, agricultural countries led by Brazil and India demand that the US reduce its agricultural subsidies and that the European Union (EU) reduce import tariffs for agricultural products.

“If the round had concluded, we might have decided not to enter the controversy,” said Azevedo.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns – currently in Brasilia – said his country considers the complaint normal and noted that trade issues will not affect bilateral relations.

Canada had recently filed a similar complaint against US agricultural policy.