Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Dohar WTO trade talks collapsed yesterday in Geneva amid fighting and irreconciliable differences between principally the United States and India and China over the insistence by the U.S. and other more developed countries that they must maintain their farm subsidies.

Anthony Faiola and Rama Lakshmi write in The Washington Post today:

"The failure of the talks after nine days of intense negotiations underscored what is likely to be the biggest challenge in coming years to expanding world trade: the reluctance of emerging juggernauts such as India and China to risk their newfound success by offering rich nations greater access to the hundreds of millions of consumers rising out of poverty in the developing world."

So much for the Bush insistence that "free trade" is always beneficial and an unalloyed bonum. If that were really the truth, the U.S. would have compromised by unraveling its farm subsidies. This sticking point in the Dohar talks has always been the dirty little secret of free-trade agreements. We (i.e. Americans) want you (i.e., the rest of the world, especially, less developed countries) to allow our goods, especially agricultural ones, and our other products into your societies without import tariffs, but we refuse to end our subsidies to our farmers and manufacturers. In other words, "free trade" really is a one-sided agreement. Trade with us Americans and accept our terms, otherwise we will cut you off. This is the American threat.

Report Faiola and Lakshmi:

"The talks in Geneva at times took on a highly charged, personal tone that immediately cast the negotiations as a power struggle between the developed and developing worlds. Within 24 hours of landing in Geneva nine days ago, Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, infuriated First World negotiators, comparing their efforts to hype their proposed trade concessions to Nazi propaganda. His comments drew sharp reprimands, particularly from Washington's top negotiator, U.S. Trade Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors . . . ."

"Opposition to the talks had been building in India since June, when 35 farmers groups from across that nation gathered at a conference in New Delhi to discuss the implications of the trade negotiations with trade and food policy activists. They called upon wealthy nations to remove their farm subsidies, saying such assistance to First World farmers denies a level playing field to subsistence-farming nations such as India."

India and China and other developing countries would not agree this time to American trade intransigence. Thus the much lamented demise of the Dohar Agreement. It shows how Bush and his other Republican "free trade" enthusiasts view the rest of the world, especially the poorer and less economically developed countries.

No comments:

Post a Comment