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Albrecht Comments on Ag Subsidies

For developing countries opposed to agricultural subsidies in Europe and the U.S., due restraint may be about to end. The World Trade Organization's "Peace Clause," which protects countries with agricultural subsidies from challenges to those handouts, is set to expire at the end of 2003. WILLIAM ALBRECHT, professor of economics at the University of Iowa, says that although he thinks the U.S. does want to move in the direction of liberalizing agricultural trade and eliminating subsidies, barriers like the Farm Bill stand in the way at the present time. "I think the U.S. really wants to go ahead," Albrecht says. "I'm not sure how we would do it. We have the Farm Bill. It's the law. We can't stop that. We could reach an agreement that would reach effect when the Farm Bill expires." He also warns that a free-for-all in launching challenges to subsidies could backfire for developing countries. "If nothing happens, they are bigger losers than we are," Albrecht says. "We're rich. Big deal, we'll be that much richer. But they are poor. It's a big deal if they don't get rich."

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