Brazil, US should resolve ag subsidy problem, says official

BRASILIA, Brazil, January 8, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Associated Press: Brazil and the U.S. should work together to resolve the problem of agricultural subsidies, a major stumbling block in discussions to form a Free Trade Area of the Americas, Brazil's agriculture minister said Tuesday.

Roberto Rodrigues made his comments shortly after meeting with a delegation of 11 U.S. Congressmen lead by Illinois Republican Rep. Dennis Hastert.

"If it is impossible to impede the concession of subsidies, whether for political or social reasons, then we should establish norms so they don't generate excess export goods nor create problems for the market," Rodrigues said.

The issue of agricultural subsidies in the U.S. and Europe was a major reason negotiations on a global trade liberalization agreement collapsed in Cancun, Mexico, in September.

The subsidies have also fueled sharp differences with Brazil over how to create a hemisphere-wide free trade zone - the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

According to the agriculture ministry, Hastert explained to Rodrigues that the subsidies were necessary to keep families on their farms.