03.28.2014 0

Has the time come for worldwide sugar subsidies to end?

sugarBy Rick Manning

A unique opportunity has emerged at the World Trade Organization to end sugar subsidies once and for all.

Australia, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Thailand, Canada, El Salvador, the European Union and the United States have all complained to the WTO about massive sugar subsidies in India that threaten the world sugar market.

The complaints would be much more powerful if the U.S. Congress were to move forward immediately with Representative Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) proposal that would dictate that U.S. sugar subsidies would end once the rest of the world dropped their market distorting giveaways.  The proposal, known as Zero to Zero, would give U.S. representatives at the WTO the moral authority to demand the rest of the world drop the sugar subsidy arms race without permanently harming U.S. sugar production through unilateral disarmament.

Here’s how it would work.

Under the Yoho Zero to Zero plan, the U.S. would agree to eliminate all domestic sugar subsidies after the WTO had brokered an agreement with other countries around the world to drop theirs as well.  With sugar subsidies taking center stage at the WTO, there is no better time than the present to move forward with this innovative and aggressive move to return to a subsidy free world wide sugar market.

While the Farm Bill in the U.S. has passed and is in place for five years, congressional action on the Yoho proposal should not wait as it would give our nation’s trade negotiators a timely boost in seeking an end to escalating subsidies.  Most importantly, it would force other nations, like Brazil, to choose whether to argue against Indian sugar subsidies while continuing their own program that has undercut other sugar producers around the world.

By leading the way on the Yoho legislation without unilaterally disarming and harming our nation’s domestic sugar industry, Congress would be making a bold statement that could provide the tipping point in the world wide debate on the place of agriculture subsidies as a whole, and sugar subsidies in particular.

Rick Manning is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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