Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan defends rice aid donation to Nauru at WTO

DPA , TAIPEI

Taiwan has defended a rice donation to Nauru as humanitarian aid even though Taipei sold the rice on the market, triggering an Australian protest to the WTO, press reports said yesterday.

Australia raised the issue on Wednesday during WTO farm talks, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported from Geneva.

Australia said Taiwan recently donated 500 tonnes of rice to Nauru that ended up being sold at a low price on the market, hurting the interests of Australia, Nauru's top rice supplier.

Australia demanded Taiwan explain its rice aid to Nauru and promise the incident would not happen again, CNA said.

Taiwan defended the shipment, saying the rice was purely humanitarian aid and its shipment to Nauru was paid for by Taipei.

What happened to the rice after it was delivered has nothing to do with Taipei, Taiwan's representative said.

The envoy said the WTO does not restrict the use of donated food, although the issue was discussed last year in the current Doha Round of trade talks.

According to those discussions, the donor should bear most of the responsibility for the use of donated food, but the "lowest-level" developing nations could sell some of the food under supervision and only to raise money to cover the aid's shipment, the envoy said.

Taiwan and Australia are WTO members. Nauru is not.

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