- Category: The Nation
- Published on Wednesday, June 27 2012 02:06
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 419
This country's price controls on rice -- considered by most countries as a subsidy -- again has come under fire in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The controls have been a sore point several times before.
Rice is the only commodity still price controlled here. This time, nine nations appealed to the WTO Agricultural Committee, protesting the controls has a sort of unfair subsidy.
WTO has set a limit of nearly $16 million for subsidies for this country. According to the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Ministry, the figure last year was $104 million that rice producers received.
This is the fifth year the country has exceeded the WTO limit. But there's a problem -- the price is set by law, according to deputy Agriculture Minister Tania Lopez, and the ministry has no wiggle room.
Caught between demands of its trading partners and a rigid law, Lopez says, the ministry is awaiting for a court to decide the matter. Hearings wound up Wednesday and the court has two weeks to rule.
The National Rice Corporation estimates that the country consumers 19,271 metric tons of rice monthly. The national paper La Nacion notes that the country only consumers 4,000 metric tons of beans per month.
But rice corporation executive Oscar Campos says the government is lying about the price of Costa Rican rice -- that the subsidy makes it the fourth highest price in the world when it is the 10th highest.
He also sees no danger of WTO sanctions against the country which has been predicted by the Foreign Trade Ministry for the past two years. But it appears that WTO countries have been more than patient with Costa Rica.
Comment: If this country tries to get away with it too long, the ax will fall. Campos is whistling in the dark.