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South Africa Criticizes US Farm Subsidies - 2002-05-21

There’s more criticism of the new US farm subsidy legislation signed into law last week by President Bush. The legislation provides 190-billion dollars over six years for farm programs.

Last week, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don Mckinnon criticized the measure and now South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin describes it as protectionism.

Mr. Erwin says the US farm subsidies are bad for the developing world and the world economy. He says the legislation sends the “wrong message” that the world’s leading economy is disregarding agreements to reduce subsidies. The South African official says it creates “uncertainty around trade negotiations.” He believes the measure will slow down the restructuring of the world economy, which would allow developing countries more access to markets. Mr. Erwin says that if every nation had the resources to provide subsidies the "economy would stop trading." He says it would “log jam” the world economy. South Africa is a member of the Cairns group of food exporting countries and plans to make its complaints known the Bush administration.

President Bush has said the “farm bill supports our commitment to open trade and complies with our obligation to the World Trade Organization.” He says the legislation is worth the cost because “the success of America’s farmers and ranchers is essential to the success of the American economy.”