Uruguay is not protectionist
E: "Small agreement sign of bigger things with Brazil," Aug. 10) Your articles says that "the Harper government has not hidden its desire to pursue a free trade agreement with Brazil and its other Mercosur partners, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay." However, it goes on to affirm that "few, however, expect to see much progress given the historical problems of getting Mercosur's smaller members Uruguay and Paraguay on board, given what many consider to be their protectionist agricultural policies."
In more than 30 years of a professional career in multilateral trade policy, it is the very first time that I have read anywhere that Uruguay has protectionist agricultural policies, let alone that the alleged policies constitute a "historical problem" for the Mercosur.
Had such unwarranted affirmations been made in almost any other Canadian media, one could have arguably been tempted to disregard them, attributing them to a relative lack of expertise about the countries of Latin America, as a result of both the geographical as well as the historic and cultural distances between our societies.
However, coming from a newspaper that is proud to call itself "Canada's Foreign Policy Newsweekly," such an authoritative motto may lead the reader to lend credence to its assertions, which, in this case, require a firm refutation.
In matters of international trade, Uruguay has a long and rich tradition of seeking fair and clear rules, particularly about agricultural trade. Uruguay is a founding member of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries, which are instrumental in bringing agriculture into the multilateral trading system. This was one of the most significant achievements of the Uruguay Round, the last successful world trade round, which was launched in 1986, precisely in my country. Uruguay is widely recognized as a small open economy and a firm, reliable advocate of an open, rules-based multilateral trading system.
I would be very grateful if your article could be somewhat specific in identifying trade policies or instruments used by Uruguay to support the assertion that my country is an agricultural protectionist. I assume that the author is knowledgeable in matters of trade policy, and is aware that protectionism in general, and agricultural protectionism in particular, is structured around measures which isolate the protected activity from the world market, such as:
n High tariffs (i.e. import duties: for example, some countries impose tariffs of around 300 per cent ad valorem for butter, or 240 per cent for cheese, or $160 for eggs.)
n Quantitative restrictions (i.e. quotas, or tariff rate quotas: for example, some countries set fixed volumes allowed for importation, usually at an insignificant or very low levels when compared to domestic consumption of the good in question, for example, beef, or milk or poultry).
n Domestic support measures, some of which can be trade neutral (the WTO "green box" measures), while others can be trade distorting (the WTO "amber" and "blue" boxes). For example, to reduce distortions, some measures are usually accompanied by supply-management programs. Other means of domestic support are usually effected through marketing boards and state-run import monopolies.
n Export subsidies, that is financial grants to compensate for the difference between the domestic price and the export price of a given good. For example, some countries may set the price of a product (let's say milk) at lower levels for manufacturers for export than for domestic consumption.
Very probably, the author finds that measures of this kind are familiar to him, and he may even have the impression that he is directly affected by some, but I am quite certain he will not find any of them being used in Uruguay.
I invite readers to visit the website of the World Trade Organization to read the reports of the Trade Policy Reviews conducted about Uruguay, where they will have access to objective and reliable information about my country's trade policies.
Elbio O. Rosselli
Uruguay Ambassador to Canada
Turkey must reconcile history
E: "Turks, Armenians Need Dialogue" and "Time to Stop Living in the Past," Aug. 10) Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code makes it illegal to openly criticize the Turkish government and its institutions. In effect since 2005, it has been cause for many Turkish intellectuals to be charged and convicted; among them are those who support the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Despite what Turkish Ambassador Rafet Akgunay states, Orhan Pamuk was in fact convicted under the aforementioned law and asked to pay a fine of 6,000 liras, as reported in the March 27 issue of Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
The Armenians were oppressed for the 10 centuries Akgunay claims the two peoples shared a "friendship." The Armenians were treated as second-class citizens, exposed to heavy taxation and laws predisposing them to violence. Ambassador Akgunay must be mixing "friendship" with obedience since the Armenians were labeled millet-i sadÄ±ka, Ottoman for "loyal subjects," for being passive. This was the case until Armenians and others realized a movement for equal rights was overdue.
Prof. Ozay Mehmet is mistaken when he states that the Toronto District School Board recognizes there is "legitimate scholarly dispute" on the Armenian Genocide. He cites this from a report on April 23, which was revised and republished on April 29 with a correction on that matter.
Mehmed Talaat and Ismail Enver, architects of the Armenian Genocide convicted by the Turkish Military Tribunals in 1919 for the destruction of Armenians, were reverently buried in Istanbul's Monument of Liberty cemetery as heroes, as the memory of righteous Turks who saved Armenians in 1915 vanish under the cloak of Article 301 and Turkey's denial.
The Turkish government must make amends and reconcile with its own citizens first, a growing number of whom demand recognition and reparation for Armenians.
Sanctuary undermines laws
e: "War criminal campaign derided as 'misleading,'" Aug. 3) This government would be more credible if it dealt with the case of a self-confessed KGB officer whom the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ordered deported more than two years ago, a removal order confirmed by Mr. Justice Russell Zinn of the Federal Court of Canada.
Yet this fellow remains untouched in "sanctuary" in an East Vancouver church basement as the Canada Border Services Agency refuses to enforce our laws, so undermining public confidence in them. Ministers Jason Kenney and Vic Toews know all about this case but continue to ignore it. It would be nice if someone asked them why in the House of Commons.
Chair, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association