The EU’s divide-and-conquer strategy on agricultural trade

The Financial Times reports that the European Union has a strategy for getting its egregious Common Agricultural Policy through the Doha round to WTO talks unscathed — buying off Mercosur: The European Union plans to splinter opposition to its Common Agricultural Policy this week by offering members of Mercosur, the Latin American customs union, a ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

The Financial Times reports that the European Union has a strategy for getting its egregious Common Agricultural Policy through the Doha round to WTO talks unscathed -- buying off Mercosur:

The Financial Times reports that the European Union has a strategy for getting its egregious Common Agricultural Policy through the Doha round to WTO talks unscathed — buying off Mercosur:

The European Union plans to splinter opposition to its Common Agricultural Policy this week by offering members of Mercosur, the Latin American customs union, a deal aimed at winning their support in the Doha trade round. The move is designed to weaken pressure on the EU to lower its farm trade barriers by, in effect, buying off Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay with the offer of preferential trade concessions. These countries have been among the fiercest adversaries of Brussels in the global trade talks. The EU proposals, if accepted, risk splitting the Cairns Group of 18 agricultural exporters as well as the Group of 20 developing countries, led by Brazil, which want the rich nations to reform their farm policies…. The proposals are expected to anger other developing country farm exporters, such as Chile and Thailand, which belong to both the Cairns Group and the G20, as well as richer countries including Australia and New Zealand. As well as placing their exports to the EU at a disadvantage, a preferential deal for Mercosur would undermine their efforts to present a united front in the Doha round.

Politically, this is a clever move on the EU’s part, though it puts Brazil in the awkward position of simultaneously trying to act as a leader of the Global South while cutting most of these countries out of any EU benefits. Economically, the perpetuation of the CAP is, as always, unambiguously stupid. Meanwhile, the FT also reports that Oxfam has “accused the European Union on Tuesday of employing ‘economic sophistry’ to conceal the true costs of its controversial sugar regime, saying the policy inflicted big losses on poor countries and reduced the value of EU development aid.” Here’s a link to the press release and full version of Oxfam’s report, “Dumping on the World.”

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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