South America Calling

Brazil Considers WTO Suit vs. US Soy Again

By Alastair Stewart

Brazil's government will once again consider whether to question U.S. soybean subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Valor Economico, a local business daily reported Wednesday.

Depressed international prices have spurred Brazilian farm groups to formally request the government study a challenge to U.S. weather and price insurance schemes.

According to Valor, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry's plan is to study the issue in the first months of 2016.

Aprosoja Brasil, a grain producer group, has hired a U.S. law firm to help build the case. It claims that subsidized U.S. farm support deprives Brazilian farmers of $1 billion a year in soy revenues.

If the ministry were to decide to pursue the case, it would certainly increase animosity between the two main soy-producing countries.

Brazil has been toying with a challenge for some time, even before it won its landmark WTO decision against U.S. cotton subsidies. The cotton decision provided a blueprint for how the Brazilians should proceed and established important precedents.

Interest in such an idea has grown over the last year as, with international prices depressed, the alleged distortion caused by the U.S. programs increase. Also, the enacting of the 2014 Farm Bill provides clear rules to be questioned.

According to Valor, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry wanted to wait until after last week's WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, before it studied the case.



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