By Grigg, William Norman
The New American , Vol. 21, No. 1
A delegation of U.S. cotton farmers had their "day in court" on December 13, seeking relief from a damaging regulatory ruling. The "court" to which they made their appeal was a dispute resolution panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a 148-nation global body headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. cotton farmers were forced to appeal to the foreign "court" because the U.S. government illegally ceded part of our sovereignty to the WTO, and the farmers have been caught in the repercussion of that action.
Last September, noted the December 7 Delta Farm Press, a three-member WTO panel ruled that a number of federal assistance programs for the cotton industry are "prohibited export subsidies" that created "significant suppression of world cotton prices in marketing years 1999-2002, causing 'serious prejudice' to Brazil's interests." This isn't to say that the WTO uniformly bans all such subsidies. Article 13 of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture allows national governments to provide agricultural subsidies, but the global trade body claims the authority to nullify any subsidy it deems inappropriate--and to levy punitive fines and taxes to enforce its rulings.
As has been its habit, the Bush administration reacted to the September decision by expressing resigned disapproval--and an eager willingness to abide by the WTO's final decision. This left U.S. cotton farmers to seek relief from the same foreign globalist body that had issued the injurious decision. "We have been preparing our defense," explained John Maguire, senior vice president of Washington operations for the National Cotton Council. "The U.S. Government is our attorney in this case." What this means is that, "win" or lose, the Bush administration would validate the WTO's authority to regulate our nation's economic policy.
This was neither the first, nor the most recent, instance in which the WTO has issued a strongly anti-U.S. ruling. In March 2004, the body ruled that congressional legislation banning Internet gambling violates the terms of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Described as a measure intended to facilitate free trade in services, GATS is not an agreement, or even a set of agreements. Instead, it is an open-ended process in which hordes of anonymous foreign bureaucrats review local, state, and federal licensing and certification standards, and other supposed impediments to the global free trade in services. Through the GATS process, all of our legislative processes are thrown open to challenge by foreign governments.
Shortly after the U.S. presidential election, the WTO issued what would have to be considered its most dramatic ruling against U.S. interests. As summarized by Newsday, a November 26 ruling "approved punitive taxes long sought by the European Union and other countries because of a law they say unfairly protects U.S. steel companies and other industries." The law in question, commonly known as the "Byrd amendment," authorizes the imposition of tariffs to protect various industries from "dumping"--that is to say, the subsidized export of goods below production costs as a way of driving U.S.-based competitors out of the market.
Under the Byrd amendment, formally known as the "Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000," money collected through the tariffs could be paid to U.S. companies who file anti-dumping complaints. Over the past three years, some $700 million has been paid out. In response to a European Union complaint in 2002, the WTO ruled that the Byrd amendment was "illegal." This is to say that a Geneva-based global body, composed of foreigners who are not accountable to U.S. citizens, presumed to exercise judicial review over a law that whether considered wise or foolish--was properly enacted by Congress and duly signed by the president.
The November 26 WTO ruling compounds that out-rage by authorizing the imposition of "punitive taxes" against the United States. …