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European Union Must Reduce Ag Tariffs, NPPC Says

by 5m Editor
16 December 2005, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON, D.C - The National Pork Producers Council today criticized the European Union’s stand on agriculture tariffs and subsidies as “untenable” and “holding hostage” the World Trade Organization negotiations now taking place in Hong Kong.

European Union Must Reduce Ag Tariffs, NPPC Says - WASHINGTON, D.C - The National Pork Producers Council today criticized the European Union’s stand on agriculture tariffs and subsidies as “untenable” and “holding hostage” the World Trade Organization negotiations now taking place in Hong Kong.

NPPC international trade counsel Nick Giordano, who is in Hong Kong for the trade talks, urged the EU to reduce its agriculture duties, particularly on pork. The EU protects its pork producers through quotas, high tariffs and a web of non-science-based health restrictions on imports. “The EU is trying to divert attention to cotton and other issues,” said Giordano, “but the reality is that its untenable proposal on agriculture is holding hostage the entire Doha process.”

Despite an overwhelming consensus in the WTO that barriers to farm trade must be drastically reduced, the EU is willing to make only minor adjustments to the high-import duties that protect its farmers. Those duties impede farmers in other countries from exporting to one of the most lucrative markets in the world. In October, the U.S. pledged to reduce its agricultural subsidies by 60 percent.

“The U.S. has made a bold proposal on agriculture subsidies, and it’s time for the EU to step up and move the current trade talks forward,” said Giordano. “Success in Hong Kong has the potential to generate wealth for farmers around the world in many sectors of agriculture.”

Economists estimate that cutting global barriers to trade by one-third would boost the world economy by more than $600 billion and lift more than 500 million people in the developing world out of chronic poverty.

Giordano noted that U.S. pork producers do not receive farm subsidies, so their survival increasingly is tied to their ability to export. U.S. pork exports have exploded in recent years thanks to various trade agreements – 2004 exports totaled more than 1 million metric tons with a value of $2.2 billion. So, there is enormous potential for increased demand for U.S. pork if the Hong Kong trade talks are successful in achieving major cuts in import duties. (The average import duty for pork among WTO countries is 77 percent; the average U.S. import duty on pork is only 1 percent.)

“Great potential exists for both developed and developing country exports of pork and other agriculture products if an aggressive package of agriculture reforms is adopted,” Giordano said. “U.S. pork producers urge the EU to reconsider its current position and to make a new offer in Hong Kong that will provide substantial improvements in agricultural market access.”

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 15th December 2005

5m Editor