Serious issues such as the Doha trade negotiations and farm trade reform deserve a better analysis than they were given in the Nov. 3 editorial "French Monkey Business."
France attaches great importance to the success of the Doha round of global trade negotiations. Success means balanced progress among agriculture, industry and services. It also means a balanced outcome in agriculture and fostering development in the world's poorest countries.
The European Union is the world's largest agricultural importer. Its imports from developing countries are higher than those of the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand combined. It also accounts for 80 percent of agricultural exports from least-developed countries. The E.U. has concluded preferential arrangements with many developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to foster their economies.
Tariff cuts at the levels the United States proposes would wipe out the preferential arrangements for $6.7 billion of the $11.3 billion in agricultural trade with Europe from those countries.
The European Union overhauled its Common Agricultural Policy in 2003: Surpluses are gone, trade-distorting programs are erased and the E.U. has made a commitment to the elimination of export supports.
Since this reform, Europe has imported 10 times as much agricultural products from the southern countries as the United States has. European farmers accepted major sacrifices in 2003 because the European Union guaranteed them stable rules until 2013.
What President Jacques Chirac indicated was simply that France won't accept the World Trade Organization negotiations going back on that commitment. For the sake of balance, the U.S. proposals also must be followed by concrete reforms.
Embassy of France