Farmers Fume at GATT Swiss Offices Europeans, Indians, Japanese Say Subsidy Cuts Will End Traditions

Article excerpt

Farmers from Europe, India and Japan demonstrated Saturday against "American imperialism" and the trade accord they fear will ruin hundreds of millions of farmers and uproot centuries-old traditions.

The agreement, sponsored by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is intended to cut farm production and export subsidies, roll back trade barriers and end outright import bans on products like rice.

"GATTASTROPHE," read one of the banners. "G-Attention: Death to farmers," read another, summing up the mood of the estimated 3,000 demonstrators. Most were from France and Switzerland.

Police in riot gear sealed off the entrance to GATT headquarters and fired tear gas to disperse bottle-throwing demonstrators who tried to force their way through the barricades. No injuries or arrests were reported.

A small delegation had a "short and to-the-point" meeting with GATT director-general Peter Sutherland, who told them their objections were unfounded, a GATT official said.

A 12-member Japanese farmer delegation warned that millions of Japanese rice farmers would go under if the country were open to cheaper imports. …