U.S. Challenged on Cotton Subsidies

U.S. cotton subsidies were the subject of a complaint by Brazil, which formally sought permission from the World Trade Organization to retaliate by applying an additional $1.04 billion worth of sanctions on U.S. trademarks, patents, financial and engineering services. The request followed a similar claim in July for $3 billion in sanctions.

The United States says it "fully intends to implement" the WTO ruling. Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, on a visit to Brasilia, called retaliation counterproductive and suggested the United States might respond in kind by removing trade preferences on certain Brazilian goods. "Retaliation is a tool but you have to be careful when you use the tool," he said.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said further liberalization of cotton trade was needed and that the United States was "part of the problem" in improving trading conditions for developing countries.

Brazil to Restrict Chinese Imports

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed an order to allow the government to restrict imports of Chinese products until 2013 to avert domestic factory closings. Trade Minister Luiz Fernando Furlan failed during a trip to Beijing last week to persuade Chinese officials to curb the growth of some exports to Brazil. Furlan said the order will give Brazil more bargaining power in further talks with the Chinese he plans within 45 days.


Parmalat Shares for Sale Again

New shares of Parmalat Finanziaria began trading on the Italian stock exchange Thursday, almost two years after a fraud scandal pushed the dairy company into bankruptcy protection and rendered its old stock worthless.

Parmalat shares closed at $3.65, down 4 percent from the stock's opening price. The closing price values the company at $5.8 billion, more than four times Parmalat's market capitalization before its shares were suspended in December 2003.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.