"Beef Wars," by Michael A. Samuels [op-ed, July 13], contains a number of significant omissions that lead readers to believe the European Union is failing to adhere to its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations. This is not the case.
The EU accepts the WTO decision in the beef hormone case and is exercising its right under WTO rules to maintain the ban on imports of U.S. hormone-treated beef. Europe's politicians are prepared for increased U.S. tariffs against $116.8 million worth of European goods (not $191.4 million as Samuels maintained) as the price to be paid for unadulterated beef. There is nothing illegal about the EU's decision. U.S. policy makers have labeled this conflict a trade dispute. Instead it is a clash over consumer perceptions of hormone use in foodstuffs. Americans are unfazed by hormones, while Europeans are largely opposed to their use.
On the banana dispute, Mr. Samuels again misstates the situation. The EU is reformulating its banana regime to bring it into compliance with the WTO ruling. It has not rejected the WTO's judgment.
From the tone of the op-ed, one might think the United States' experience of the WTO has been a bad one: The truth is far from it. Of the 22 cases decided by WTO panels since its inception, approximately 75 percent involved the United States as complainant or defendant. Of those, 65 percent resulted in rulings in favor of the United States. Thus, far from the WTO failing to deliver, it has consistently upheld U.S. complaints.
STUART P. MACKINTOSH
The writer is director of trade and investment at James Orr Associates, a group of trade advisers to banks.
"Beef Wars" by former U.S. Ambassador to GATT Michael Samuels, illustrates how administration policy on international trade law misses the big picture.
In the "Banana Wars" Samuels refers to, the United States successfully sued the European Union against agreements under which Caribbean nations sold bananas at preferred prices to their former colonial rulers in Europe. This has been a form of foreign aid that keeps farmers working the land, as opposed to more welfare-like aid packages. In the near term, only bananas are a viable crop in the small eastern Caribbean islands, and the likely alternative is the drug trade, with its associated social disintegration.
But under the World Trade Organization, such social or environmental considerations have no place. Samuels makes no mention at all of the consequences of our policy on the peoples of those nations.
Because we produce no bananas domestically, the only Americans to benefit are the stockholders of Dole and Chiquita -- two companies that have regularly made large contributions to both Republicans and Democrats. The rest of us will suffer from the expansion of drug production in, and trafficking through, the islands. The self-destructive trade policy that political contributions have produced is another excellent example of why we need real campaign finance reform.
WILLIAM S. KESSLER