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Unbalanced Traders, or Unbalanced Editorial?

(Wednesday, March 12, 2003 -- CropChoice news) --

Wall Street Journal, 03/11/03: Your editorial " Unbalanced Traders 1" (Feb. 20) blasts the so-called "EU protectionist hypocrisy." Yet you turn a blind eye on trade-distorting U.S. farm policy.

Who has decided to beef up its trade-distorting farm subsidies by a whopping $80 billion (73 billion)? Not the EU, the U.S.! Who has decided recently to add another $3.1 billion in farm support, despite all promises that the Farm Bill would once and forever replace all these "emergency packages"? The U.S., not the EU! Who has decided to continue its reform path and make its farm policy less and less trade distorting, to freeze the farm budget despite taking on board four million new farmers through enlargement? The EU, not the U.S.!

You also pour scorn to the EU's "Everything but Arms" (EBA) initiative whereby we provide duty- and quota-free market access for the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world. You dismiss it by saying that these countries represent only about 0.003% of EU imports. This figure is simply wrong. EU imports from LDCs account for 2.4% of our total imports. What is more relevant is that the EU is making an effort to increase that figure, through preferential access.

The fact is that Mozambique, for example, is exporting sugar to the EU for the first time -- under the same "Everything but Arms" arrangement that you belittle and ridicule. Last year, they exported 8.331 tons. And this quantity will certainly increase up to completely duty free and quota free access in 2009, allowing the poorest countries to take increasing benefit from this preferential access.

This is a concrete example of how preferences help the poorest countries to expand their exports. I know that Mozambique and the other 48 countries are looking forward to these increasing benefits which they get from the EU, but not get from the rest of the developed world. Your bizarre logic seems to be to slam those who do something real and tangible for developing countries, and leave unscathed those who do little or nothing. Wouldn't it be fair to mention that the American farm market is not open duty free and quota free to all imports from the poorest countries in the world?

Your readers should also know that the present EU and U.S. sugar regimes are equally protective. But contrary to the EU, where sugar exports and sugar imports have remained very stable for many years, the American sugar policy represents a constant destabilizing factor on the world markets. And furthermore, while the Commission will table a proposal to reform the EU sugar regime this year, we have seen no signs on the U.S. side that they have any plans to do the same.

Undeterred by all these facts, you continue to pump out your one-sided propaganda, following the principle "do as I say, not as I do". Maybe you should consider renaming your paper. What about: "WSJ -- The Washington Surrogate Journal"?

Gregor Kreuzhuber
European Commission
Spokesman for Agriculture