The Grapes of Wrath

Who's right in the squabble over a hill of beans that threatens to triple the price of Chablis and unleash a global trade war?

IT LOOKED TO U.S. TRADE NEGOTIATOR Carla Hills as if six years of tortuous bargaining to reach a global free-trade agreement were about to collapse over a mere hill of beans. Frustrated, she decided to risk it all by announcing that the U.S. would slap 200% tariffs on $300 million worth of European farm exports, notably white wine, if a deal were not concluded in a month. Suddenly, an all-out trade war between the U.S. and Europe seemed imminent.

Hills' threat was intended as shock therapy -- to force the European Community to reduce its agricultural subsidies, the issue that has...

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