Will Brazil Hardball WTO Talks with Cotton Meeting?

Brazil asks for a meeting on how the U.S. cotton program will be changed to comply with WTO case ruling.

A Brazil-U.S. meeting will likely occur before the end of July on how the U.S. cotton program will be changed to comply with the World Trade Organization case that Brazil won last year. U.S. agricultural negotiator Jason Hafemeister says he does not know if Brazil will use the meeting to leverage stalled WTO talks, according to a report in Congress Daily.

Hafemeister shared at a National Cotton Council board meeting that the Brazilian government has "summoned" the meeting. At this time there isn't a set location or date for the meeting.

The WTO cotton ruling found that the Step 2 cotton program was trade-distorting, the part of the ruling Congress has fixed. However, the ruling also found cotton marketing loans and countercyclical payments in violation of WTO rules. Because marketing loans and countercyclical payments are used in other crops, Congress was waiting for Doha talks to address the issue.

"Hafemeister also told the Cotton Council, which represents the cotton industry from growers to textile users, that he and other trade officials expect WTO Director General Pascal Lamy to issue a statement [this] week about what might be possible to achieve in the Doha round," Congress Daily reports.

Differences still exist between offers on the table. Senate Agriculture Chairman Saxby Chambliss in comments to the American Soybean Association says the European Union needs to come to the table and offer a serious market access proposal that will result in new trade flows."Otherwise they are imperiling the talks, and the losers from a failed Doha Round will not only be farmers and ranchers in the United States but developing countries around the world," he states.  

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