A thinly veiled attack on the operations of the New Zealand Dairy Board by the European Commission at World Trade Organisation talks in Geneva has met with a firm rebuttal from the board. The Commission alleges that what it regards as state trading enterprises' (STE) distort trade in dairy products and other food commodities and give national exporters unfair advantages. In a paper to the WTO agriculture committee, the Commission alleged that 30% of world dairy products is controlled by one STE. Only the NZDB fits this description. A senior board official in Wellington said that the Commission's claims that the NZDB indulged in "highly trade-distorting practices" are spurious. Fiona Cooper, of the NZDB trade strategy group, said the board was only technically an STE because it was backed by legislation; to all intents and purposes it was an entirely commercial entity. Cooper also maintained that price discrimination, also cited by the EU as a trade-distorting practice, was part of normal commercial practices commonly used by multinationals, whether or not they were state-owned. {{PROVISIONS }}