Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Billy Bunter to take charge of the tuck shop?

Not accepting that it has been caught with its hands in the till, the EU, after having been slammed by the WTO last August for robbing developing countries blind with its rapacious subsidised sugar scam, is now to appeal against the WTO judgment.

It has told the WTO that it will be filing papers on 13 January, despite today being the last day permitted for lodging an appeal. However, it has told the WTO it had agreed with complainants Australia, Brazil and Thailand to apply for an extension of the deadline until January – so that's all right then.

Meanwhile, in an apparently separate development, France has formally proposed that its former EU commissioner, Pascal Lamy, who spent his long and illustrious career defending French interests as EU trade commissioner, should be the candidate to head the WTO as director general.

Interestingly, the very man who must have prepared the papers for the EU's appeal is up against Luis Felipe Seixas Correa, Brazil's WTO envoy - Brazil, of course, being one of the principal complainants against the EU's rapacious behaviour on the world trading scene.

Given that the main culprit in the sugar scam was France, with with gross over-production, it takes little imagination to work out how convenient it would be to have a Frenchman in charge of the WTO while it is handling the EU appeal.

Lamy also faces competition from Mauritius and Uruguay, who have until May to make their pitch in what is expected, somewhat predictably, to become an acrimonious dispute between the EU and Brazil

Amazingly, in an unpublicised agreement last week, all the 25 governments of the EU member states governments backed Lamy's candidature, even the British government – which must have suffered most from Lamy's dedication to the cause of his political masters in Paris.

Lamy, himself, is protesting that he would try to be impartial, and not promote the interests of France or Europe, which is just about as convincing as the Big Bad Wolf promising not to eat Little Red Riding Hood. Since we're in the mood for mixing metaphors, we can also say that putting Lamy at the head of the WTO would be akin to putting Billy Bunter in charge of the tuck shop.

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