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OECD says Swiss agriculture still too protective

OECD said subsidies accounted for 70 per cent of the Swiss agriculture industry's income Keystone Archive

Despite recent progress, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says Switzerland still ranks as having one of the most protected agricultural industries in the world.

In its annual report presented in Brussels and Washington on Friday, the OECD said the Swiss government spent SFr7.5 billion francs in 2000 on supporting Swiss farmers, a sum that represented 71 per cent of the industry’s income.

The OECD pointed out that while the figure had dropped from 1999, protectionism was still high. It also said that if Switzerland wanted to become more competitive at an international level, it had to liberalise its agricultural market.

The OECD praised Swiss direct payments to environment-friendly and bio-diverse farms, which it said contributes to the durability of the Swiss agricultural industry.

The Swiss agriculture ministry reacted to the report by saying it was satisfied that Switzerland was not among the top three protectionist countries (Norway, Japan, South Korea) on the OECD’s list. But the ministry criticised the organisation’s calculating methods, which only take into account direct support to farmers.

The agriculture ministry said that it would continue to pressure the OECD for increased attention to Swiss agriculture reforms in its calculations.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR