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joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: to Guardian re agricultural subsidies Reply with quote

RE: Leader of June 21, 2004

Your leader calls for the elimination of agricultural subsidies in rich countries. Your claim that their elimination would provide poor countries with "the biggest economic boost they have ever had" is not supported by World Bank research. The elimination of trade barriers by rich countries in both agriculture and manufacturing would add 0.6% to developing world GDP by 2015 - not a significant boost at at - largely because the subsidies include planting restriction and other measures that raise the price of developing country exports [1]. Even if the World Bank is wrong the elimination of subsidies could still be harmful if in return the developing world is forced to expand destructive policies: abolish their own subsidies, reduce tariffs yet further, privatize more public utilities, expand protection for intellectual property, further liberalize capital markets etc... People who serious about helping poor countries must look at the bigger picture.

Over the last 25 years poor countries have adopted the polices listed above under immense pressure from rich country governments and investors. The result has been a drastic reduction in economic growth compared to previous decades as well diminished progress in other key areas such as child mortality [2] Ha-Joon Chang has pointed out rich countries did not develop through "free trade"when they were developing countries themselves yet insist that poor countries follow a path they rejected.[3]

Media pundits have frequently posed as courageous advocates for the poor while calling for the elimination of trade barriers that powerful interests find negotiable. They are silent about other barriers (patents, copywrites, licensing restrictions that protect the high salaries of certain professionals) that the rich want to maintain and even fortify. They are even more silent about the dismal track record of what is called "globalization". An end to the silence would give help the poor a great deal.

Regards,
Joe Emersberger


[1] Mark Weisbrot: ZNet Commentary:False Promises on Trade August 06, 2003

See also http://econ.worldbank.org/files/1715_wps2595.pdf

And "Ag Subsidies" by Evan Henshaw Plath who talks about the Guardian's previous calls for agricultural subsidy elimination and suggests alternatives.
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=41&ItemID=4137

[2] The Scorecard on Globalization 1980-2000: Twenty Years of Diminished Progress: By Mark Weisbrot, Dean Baker, Egor Kraev and Judy Chen: http://www.cepr.net/globalization/scorecard_on_globalization.htm

[3] Ha-Joon Chang; "Kicking away the ladder: Development strategy in historical perspective"; Anthem Press, London, 2002
Tue Jun 22, 2004 5:16 am
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