In a dispute that’s been going on for years now, Brazil is preparing to levy tariffs on 102 different U.S. goods in retaliation for the U.S.’s refusal to comply with a WTO cotton subsidies decision back in 2005. The WTO permitted Brazil to impose the sanctions, which will amount to about $830 million, in light of the U.S.’s resistance to removing illegal cotton subsidies.
This whole kerfuffle has certainly made me look stupid, as I wrote a 2006 thesis examining the political reasons why the United States complied with the original ruling. Although the U.S. did remove certain subsidies, it left others intact. It’s those leftover subsidies that continue to bother Brazil.
As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of countermeasure is interesting because it is perhaps the only form of pure “retaliation” sanctioned under international law that gets a stamp of pre-approval. (The countermeasures rationale does, however, often serve as a post hoc justification for an act that would otherwise violate international law.).