American Trade proposal
This is the VOA Special English
States has proposed a plan to reform
international trade rules for farm products. The United
States is proposing to cut government
assistance to American farmers. In exchange, it wants other countries to make deep cuts in their agricultural spending.
The proposal comes two months after President Bush signed a major farm bill.
The new law increases government aid for farmers. It is estimated to cost
one-hundred-ninety-thousand-million dollars over the next ten years. Critics say the measure forces down world crop prices and
reduces the money earned by farmers in developing countries.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman described the new
proposal last month at a meeting of agriculture ministers in Nara, Japan. The ministers were from the
Canada, the European Union,
Australia and Japan.
She said the proposal would end all government assistance for farm exports
over five years. The United
States also urged other countries to cut taxes
on food and agricultural imports. Mizz Veneman said the world average for such taxes is sixty-two
percent. She said the proposal would reduce the tax rate to fifteen percent. It
also would result in no tax higher than twenty-five percent. Currently, the
average American tax on imported farm products is twelve percent.
The proposal also would limit government aid for farmers to five percent of
the value of a country’s agricultural production. The United
States currently spends
nineteen-thousand-million dollars each year on such farm aid programs. The
proposal would reduce the amount to ten-thousand-million dollars.
For the European Union, the decrease in farm aid would be even greater. It
would drop from more than sixty-thousand-million dollars to
twelve-thousand-million dollars a year. In Japan,
the amount would drop from thirty-three-thousand-million dollars to
four-thousand-million dollars a year.
E-U and Japanese officials have criticized the American proposal. They say it
requires a great deal more effort from other countries than from the United
States. However, the top farm officials from
Australia and Canada
expressed general support for the American position. American farm groups also
expressed support for the proposal.
This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.
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