Deal with Eastern Europe is misleading Has Brussels come up with a clever new strategy for preserving the price differential between the EU pigmeat market and the world trade, likely to frustrate UK buyers who expect globalisation to make the commodity less expensive here? Suspicion is being aroused by the announcement of a deal between Brussels and Eastern European countries, superficially good news for purchasers within the EU because it appears to promise the long awaited flow of cheap pork from major producers including Hungary (with a separate but similar arrangement with Poland possible soon). The widely recognised catch is the reversal of trade flows and relative prices. Many of Eastern Europe's pig industries have shrunk since the wall came down more than a decade ago, creating new export markets rather than stronger competition for EU suppliers. And the Eastern Europeans want higher prices more than bigger volume sales to the EU anyway. More disturbing is the abolition of EU subsidies on pigmeat exports to these countries along with dismantling of barriers against imports from them, as part of the so called double zero' deal. The EU is committed to cutting overall pigmeat export subsidies under the existing Uruguay Round world trade pact and further reductions are almost inevitable. EU exports qualifying for aid must already be slashed by 300,000 tonnes in the next 12 months, a crucial element in global pigmeat trade liberalisation. But with these Eastern European countries out of the equation, the remaining subsidy entitlement can be concentrated on fewer third country markets ­ an indirect way of supporting prices within the EU. {{MEAT }}