May 4, 2010
09:37 AMThe Wind Machine
Foot in Mouth
In April, the United States and Brazil reached an understanding on a trade dispute involving the U.S. cotton program. This served to delay, but not solve, the underlying dispute, which by indirect action had threatened to hamper U.S. cherry and pear exports to Brazil as a result of proposed retaliatory tariffs. While good news for our industry, the understanding did contain a provision that is troubling to me.
In this provision, the U.S. agreed to publish a proposed rule recognizing an area of Brazil to be free of foot-and-mouth disease and similar diseases that have prevented fresh beef from being exported to the U.S. What is troubling is the overt linking of a technical S&P (sanitary and phytosanitary) issue with the resolution of a general trade policy dispute. S&P issues between countries are supposed to be handled dispassionately on the basis of sound science and, accordingly, not tied to other routine trade issues such as those over unfair subsidies.
If our country improperly allows linkage of this type, how can we forcefully object if the People’s Republic of China tries to do the same with a trade issue involving apples or pears?