WTO set to investigate U.S. agriculture policies

Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:38am EST
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GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to investigate U.S. farm subsidies that Canada and Brazil say break international rules, according to a meeting agenda released on Tuesday.

Ottawa and Brasilia want a WTO panel to examine U.S. domestic support for agricultural products. Canada is particularly concerned with the corn sector and Brazil is keen on a WTO assessment of U.S. export credit guarantees.

Washington blocked the first requests for the panels, invoking WTO rules that allow for more time for the parties to negotiate a solution.

On the second request, to be heard by the Dispute Settlement Body on December 17, the panels would be set up automatically.

It is possible the two panel requests will be merged into one investigation but this would have to be agreed by the United States, Brazil and Canada to occur.

Monday's meeting will also include an initial request from New Zealand for a WTO dispute panel to probe Australia's rules affecting imported apples. Wellington had first requested consultations over the issue in late August.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis; editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Robert Woodward)