US subsidy offer inadequate; will not result in real cuts

“They would not have to cut a penny off current subsidies as a result of this offer.”
Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director, Oxfam International
Published: 22 July 2008

A new US offer on farm subsidies at the World Trade Organization in Geneva does not go nearly far enough and will not deliver the promised benefits for developing countries, said international agency Oxfam today.

The US offered today to cap so-called trade distorting farm subsidies at $15bn. However, Oxfam estimates that current spending is between $7-9bn, so no real cuts will be required.

Oxfam acknowledged that it was important to set a lower limit on trade distorting spending but said that $15bn was not low enough.

"Fifteen billion is around twice what the US is spending at the moment. They would not have to cut a penny off current subsidies as a result of this offer," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

"This offer, while better than the last, will need to be substantially improved if there is to be a breakthrough this week.

"Failure to improve on this would be a huge missed opportunity to undertake fundamental and much needed reform when prices are high. Developing country farmers have suffered too long from the negative impacts of subsidies and dumping."

The US trade negotiator also indicated that they would be seeking some form of protection from future legal challenges at the WTO.

Hobbs: "Requesting this sort of immunity upfront is tantamount to admitting intention to break the rules in the future. It adds insult to injury."

Tags: