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«WTO agreement too expensive for Norway»

The agreement the World Trade Organization reached in Geneva Friday is too expensive for Norwegian agriculture, stated the Norwegian farmers’ union.

Norwegian farmers’ union has calculated with a cut of NOK 3.8 billion (USD 591.4 million) in subsidies the first year the agreement takes effect. The decrease in funding amounts to about 20,000 man-labour years in the agricultural field and businesses connected to Norwegian agriculture, reported the Norwegian paper Nationen.

However, Minister of Agriculture Lars Sponheim (picture) denies that the agreement will have so large consequences. He claims that Norwegian agriculture will remain approximately on the same level because today’s support schemes will be changed. However, Sponheim has said that Norway will most likely loose 2,000 jobs because the support schemes to export will be removed.

The agreement includes cuts in duties.

Norway currently has duties amounting to over 300 percent on many of the most important agricultural products. If an upper limit on duties is instituted, production of a number of products will no longer be profitable in Norway, according to the Norwegian farmers’ union.

According to the agreement exceptions will be made for so-called sensitive products, in other words, products which have the greatest importance for a country.

According to the Union’s web page, Norway will most likely have a need to define most of the products as sensitive products in order to continue to produce basic foods for the Norwegian population.

The Norwegian farmers’ union stating the remaining agriculture must become larger than the small scale structure used today. Increased import will be a big challenge for the grocery industry, and will jeopardize thousands of jobs in the districts. People will move away from the districts to the cities. The range of goods offered and the security connected to food quality will be reduced.

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