One recurring theme is Brazilian complaints over U.S. cotton subsidies. Brazil alleges America has kept its place as the planet's second-largest cotton producer and largest cotton exporter because the U.S. government paid billions of dollars in subsidies to its farmers between 1999 and 2003.
After spanking the U.S. last week for what it labeled illegal anti-dumping laws, the World Trade Organization this week issued a final ruling on the Brazilian cotton claim that again had U.S. farm interests fuming.
In its decision, the WTO ruled that farm support payments, as outlined in the 2002 Farm Law, were not harming Brazilian cotton farmers. Even so, export credit guarantees were found to violate global trade rules and should be stopped immediately.
United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, was pleased with most of the outcome but vowed to appeal the parts of the decision where the U.S. was found at fault. Officials with the USTR reiterated their commitment to reducing trade distorting subsidies through negotiation with WTO members. They also were quick to point out the ruling would not impact U.S. farm programs in the near future.
The National Cotton Council issued a statement condemning the decision as a misinterpretation of previous WTO agreements.
Brazilian agricultural officials were pleased with the split decision. They considered the finding as further evidence that U.S. farm subsidies violate global trade rules.