WTO chief criticises protectionism

March 6th, 2009 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, March 6 (DPA) The director-general of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, has rejected the “food miles” campaign of some European farmers who say consumers should buy local produce instead of imported foods, according to a news report Friday.
Their argument says buying food from countries like New Zealand is environmentally unfriendly because of the carbon emissions involved in transporting it to consumers over long distances.

But Lamy, who is visiting New Zealand, called it a protectionist campaign run by European producers and said cut flowers from Kenya or sheep meat from New Zealand sold in British shops had a lower carbon footprint than many similar items produced locally.

“If you look at the whole chain, in my view, the numbers show that it’s a campaign which is grounded on other intentions,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Lamy, a former European trade commissioner, also criticised the EU’s decision to reinstate export subsidies on dairy products, after scrapping them as it promised in negotiations under the stalled Doha Round of global trade liberalisation.

The EU was entitled to do it because the round has not been completed, but “it is still a negative development - it goes in the wrong direction”, he said.

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