EU wants U.S. to help ease impact of world coffee prices.
For several years, the United States has not played an active role in the ICO, a London-based intergovernmental body representing major coffee exporting and importing countries. The European Parliament resolution opined that a 50 percent fall in prices since 2000 - to the lowest price in real terms for a century-"has partly arisen from the dismantling of the ICO, which [formerly] regulated the coffee market by various means, including a quota system".
In a statement to the Parliament, EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen argued that the coffee crisis was part of a wider problem of commodity-dependent economies, subject of a policy study currently being finalized by the Commission, the EU's executive arm.
Parliamentarians questioned the role of four multinationals who control almost half global coffee sales: Nestle, Kraft, Sara Lee, and Proctor & Gamble. While prices to 25 million poor growers can drop below cost, the companies' profit margins on coffee sales range from 17 to 21 percent, according to a report from the British food aid charity Oxfam cited by the Parliament.
Liikanen also said that trade talks alone could not resolve a fundamental imbalance of coffee supply and demand. "The real problem is that the United States - the world's second biggest coffee consumer--remains outside the ICO. Unless the United States is ready to reconsider its position regarding the ICO, any measures adopted by the organization will lack international impact," he warned.
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|Comment:||EU wants U.S. to help ease impact of world coffee prices.|
|Publication:||Food & Drink Weekly|
|Date:||Apr 21, 2003|
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