Recovery, Orange Juice, and Cotton

Global trade sees fastest rise for five years: Well, here’s some moderately hopeful news.

Global trade rose at its fastest rate in more than five years in July, suggesting the economic recovery is feeding through into commerce.

An index compiled by the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, a Dutch research institute, showed the volume of world trade rising 3.5 per cent in July after a revised increase of 1.6 per cent in June.

The numbers suggest the fall in trade over the past year, steeper than during the 1930s, was mainly caused by lack of demand rather than a breakdown in the trading system.

Brazil-US Relations and the WTO: Minor new updates from Friday on ongoing trade disputes with Brazil. A panel’s been established to look into Brazil’s latest complaints about U.S. antidumping duties on Brazilian orange juice. It’s another zeroing case, which sort of just bores me to tears, so here’s something more interesting: How Brazil Became the Saudi Arabia of Orange Juide.

The fall out from cotton subsidies case is going to be much more fun, thanks to the possibility of Brazil engaging in IP cross-retaliation against the United States. The cotton war has been going on forever, but recently Brazil won a key victory. However, the WTO decision didn’t much clarify things in the way of hard numbers:

While Brazil had sought $2.5 billion in annual retaliatory trade sanctions, the US, after delaying compliance with a WTO ruling decision that found it had violated trade rules, had claimed that a figure of $20-30 million would meet the case. Last fortnight’s ruling does specify annual sanctions that can be imposed by Brazil but the ruling allows wide differences of interpretation as a result of which the two sides have come up with their own estimates of what the sanctions should cost.

Brazil says that it is entitled to about $800 million in sanctions, including $340 million of cross-retaliation against IPR or services. The US, for its part, believes the sanctions should amount to no more than $300 million, and that any retaliation on the patents front is unlikely in the near future.

I’m not even going to try to talk about the IP cross-retaliation aspect — that’s more Michael’s gig — but Brazil is now asking the U.S. to cough up information on exactly how much subsidizing its been doing, and I’m more interested in seeing how or if the U.S. is complying with the request. All I’ve seen so far is that in response to Brazil’s requests for numbers on cotton subsidies for 2009 (from first link),

Washington did not address the question in its statement at the closed-doors meeting, but said it would be open to discussing a possible out-of-court settlement with Brazil.

What sort of powers or diplomatic strategies does Brazil have to force the U.S. to give up the info? I think I might spend some time looking that up tomorrow, but for now I don’t really have a clue.

-Susan

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