G20 agriculture ministers criticized protectionism, pledge WTO rules

G20 Agriculture Ministers is seen at an visit at the 132th annual Argentine Rural Society's Palermo livestock and agriculture camp exhibition in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 28, 2018.REUTERS/Martin Acosta

Vastavam web: Agriculture ministers from the G20 countries criticized protectionism in a joint statement on Saturday, and vowed to reform World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, but did not detail what steps they would take to improve the food trade system.In the statement, they said they were “concerned about the increasing use of protectionist non-tariff trade measures, inconsistently with WTO rules.”

The meeting came amid rising trade tensions that have rocked agricultural markets. China and other top U.S. trade partners have placed retaliatory tariffs on American farmers after the Trump administration put duties on Chinese goods as well as steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.U.S. growers are expected to take an estimated $11 billion hit due to China’s retaliatory tariffs. Last week, the Trump administration said it would pay up to $12 billion to help farmers weather the trade war.

Despite the payments, the measures are “not going to make farmers whole,” Perdue said.Citing the Trump administration’s relief measures, German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner said farmers “don’t need aid, (they) need trade.”The ministers, whose countries represent 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land and 80 percent of food and agricultural commodities trade, did not specify which measures they were referring to in the statement. Asked for details, Kloeckner said the ministers did not want to “criticize a single country.”

“We all know what happens if a single person or country doesn’t adhere to WTO rules, trying to get a benefit for themselves through protectionism,” she said. “This will usually lead to retaliatory tariffs.”“Independent of all the news there was surrounding (the meeting), we managed to reach a unanimous consensus,” Argentine Agriculture Minister Luis Miguel Etchevehere said.U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker struck a surprise deal on Wednesday that ended the risk of further escalating trade tensions between the two powers.