U.S.-EU call for freer farm trade will meet with protests

The United States and the European Union (EU) on August 13 agreed on a joint plan to further liberalize agricultural trade to be submitted to the new round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks.

They call for (1) increased access to markets through tariff cuts; cuts in domestic protective measures such as price supports and subsidies for producers; and (3) regulation of exports through cuts in export subsidies and credits.

Akahata of August 15 described the proposal as having a damaging effect on the agriculture of importing countries and the world as well.

It said that in the new trade talks which are aimed at further opening markets, the U.S.-Europe "difference" is only over the extent and speed of liberalization. Their agreement is a foregone conclusion.

Following the agreement in the 1993 Uruguay Round, multinational corporations alone increased their profits, while the agriculture in importers like Japan and many developing countries has been seriously undermined, and the world is faced with the danger of a food crisis.

The 1993 agreement was imposed on the world, and Japan, the world's biggest farm product importer, was one of the biggest losers. Behind the U.S.-EU deal lies the fact that basically these two are agricultural exporters.

However, public opinion and actions calling for national sovereignty over food, which allows countries to produce their principal food, have increased in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, which is no match for the 1993 Round. If the United States and EU tried to impose their joint proposal on the world, international repulsion and protest will grow sharper.

Akahata said that the Japanese government should move away from the previous position of following the United States and making concessions and listen to world opinion as well as Japan's farmers and people. (end)

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.