EU Frets Over U.S. Protectionism

Europe doesn't like the country's increasingly restrictive import security, calling it a "considerable burden" for exporters

The EU has voiced frustration over "worrying signs" of protectionism in the United States, pointing to a planned increase of US farm subsidies as well as some anti-terrorism measures such as mandatory scanning of all goods containers entering American territory.

"We have noted with certain concern that there are signs of growing protectionism in a number of areas," reads the union's statement to the World Trade Organisation issued on Wednesday (11 June).

The document attacks "mounting restrictive import requirements for security purposes" as they represent a "considerable burden" on EU exporters. The EU has hinted it may challenge the measures in front of the Geneva-based body.

"The EU raised doubts about the compliance of these measures with World Trade Organisation rules and their professed intent," the statement concludes.

The two sides are the world's export leaders, with transatlantic trade amounting to €3 billion per day.

Higher farm subsidies

The EU has also criticised more generous hand-outs foreseen in the new 2008 US Farm Bill, especially in the context of the ongoing Doha development round of world trade talks.

The Doha development round began in 2001 with the aim of cutting farm subsidies and tariffs and boosting free trade.

The bill is the work of the US Congress which is pushing higher subsidies despite opposition from President George W. Bush.

"The [EU], like others, remains concerned that we are seeing less commitment to multilateralism than in the past, especially since the US has always been the main proponent as well as the beneficiary of the multilateral system," the EU statement says.

The WTO attack comes a show of friendship between Brussels and Washington at the EU-US summit in Slovenia earlier this week.