Brazil slaps trade sanctions on US over cotton dispute


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Jul 6, 2009


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The Brazilian government has announced trade sanctions against a variety of American goods in retaliation for illegal US subsidies to cotton farmers. The World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the sanctions in a rare move.
Brazil published a list of 100 US goods that would be subject to import tariffs in 30 days, unless the two governments reached a last-minute accord.
It said it regretted the sanctions, but that eight years of litigation had failed to produce a result.
It said it would raise tariffs on $591m (£393m) worth of US products - from cars, where the tariff will increase from 35% to 50%, to milk powder, which would see a 20% increase in the levy.

US farm subsidies are condemned worldwide, this archaic practice must stop

Carlos Marcio Cozendey
Brazil's foreign ministry

Cotton and cotton products would be charged 100% import tariff, the highest on the list.
The Office of the US Trade Representative said it was "disappointed" by Brazil's decision and called for a negotiated settlement.
Critics say the US has given its cotton growers an unfair advantage by paying them billions of dollars each year.
In 2008, the WTO ruled that subsidies to US cotton producers were discriminatory.
Carlos Marcio Cozendey, head of economic affairs at Brazil's foreign ministry, told a news conference: "The idea was to distribute the retaliation broadly in order to maximise pressure."
"US farm subsidies are condemned worldwide. This archaic practice must stop," he added.
However some analysts say major changes to these subsidies would involve modifying agricultural legislation - a tall order for the US Congress against a difficult economic and political backdrop, says the BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo.
Our correspondent says the dispute, which began in 2002, is one of the few in which the WTO has allowed cross-retaliation, meaning the wronged party can retaliate against a sector not involved in the case.
He adds that it appears the Brazilian government has deliberately chosen a wide range of products in order to have maximum impact.

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