Commodity Corner

Views on commodities and energy

from Global News Journal:

Can export bans be challenged at the WTO?

 

 

Russian grain harvest

Russia’s ban on grain exports as a heat wave parches crops in the world’s third biggest wheat exporter has raised questions whether such export curbs break World Trade Organization rules. Russia is not a member of the WTO, and it remains to be seen how its new grain policy will affect its 17-year-old bid to join. But other grain exporters, such as Ukraine, which is also considering export curbs, are part of the global trade referee.

WTO rules are quite clear that members cannot interfere with imports and exports in a way that disrupts trade or discriminates against other members. But in practice most WTO rules aim to stop countries blocking imports – shutting out competitor’s goods to give their own domestic producers an unfair advantage.

WTO protest

 

 

Saudi Arabia and other members of the oil cartel OPEC (not all of whom are members of the WTO) routinely control the production and hence export of oil to defend target prices, but have not faced challenges at the WTO.

What can be challenged are restrictions on exports designed to hurt competitors. The United States, European Union and Mexico are currently suing China at the WTO over Beijing’s export duties and other restraints on raw materials. They argue that these make the raw materials more expensive for foreign competitors, putting them at a disadvantage to Chinese processors.

If only trade talks went this quick…

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KirkCall it the Congressional version of the lightning round.

Ron Kirk, the Obama administration’s choice for U.S. Trade Representative, had a rapid-fire confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday that lasted no longer than 45 minutes.

“Exhilarating,” was how Kirk, a former Dallas mayor, described the quick experience, fittingly, in one word.