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Since You Asked About the Upcoming WTO Gathering
... and yes, you would probably consider me to be one of the "anti-globalization" people. Even though that term is so far off the mark as to be ludicrous.
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage
But countries remain far apart on the issue that will make or break the Doha round: how far to lower barriers to business in manufactured products, services and, crucially, farm goods.
Since trade agreements rely on an adherence to rules negotiated by all parties, there has to be a consistency on the part of the participants. But if some of those states are democracies you face the ongoing risk that at any moment a newly elected official will renage on those agreements. Since your alternative is to make it impossible for those elected leaders to do so, you come to the easy conclusion that trade agreements and democracy are an ackward fit.
1) you either restrict the ability of those democratically elected leaders to act in ways they are expected to in order to serve their citizens or,
2) those agreements last only as long as the current leaders are in power, and may be broken by one or more states as they elect new leadership.
The same conundrum applies to treaties as well. Many of which were torn up as soon as a new president took office. And this also applies to any international agreements between democracies.
In the upcoming week we shall see the convergence of two formidable forces, on one side you see the developing nations, who for the past few years have been undergoing painful measures to appease the IMF and World Bank, and on the other the political viability of a U.S. President that on May 13, 2002 signed a 10-year, $190 billion farm bill that promises to expand subsidies to growers.
Imagine if you will, that you are the leader of a developing nation and you have been forced to abide by various austerity measures imposed on you by the IMF and World Bank (Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Nicaragua, Bolivia) only to watch the United States President sit down and ink a new massive ten year farm subsidy bill saying:
"Farming is the first industry of America -- the industry that feeds us, the industry that clothes us, and the industry that increasingly provides more of our energy," Bush said. "The success of America's farmers and ranchers is essential to the success of the American economy."
As the leader of this developing nation you know that an influx of subsidied farm goods will mean the destruction of your local agriculture who will no longer be able to compete domestically as well as internationally. You suspect that all the flowery rhetoric about globalizing trade and lowered barriers might just be hogwash intended to get you to subject to rules that others never intend to honor. It becomes an issue of trust:
Commenting on the farm bill's passage through the US Senate, Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde said, "the United States preaches free trade but then are the most obscene protectionists." For its part, Brazil criticised the bill for being detrimental to international trade, while Mercosur member Paraguay described the new farm legislation as "a big step backward" in meeting the WTO targets. A top farm group official of the fourth member of the South American bloc -- Uruguay -- accused Washington of "telling two different stories" at international fora, adding that the US "clamours against subsidies but, when push comes to shove, it opts for protectionism."
So in contrast to what you might think about the deftly labeled "anti-globalization" protestors you must understand that for the majority of us it is not an issue of whether the developing world should be further intergrated into the international marketplace, that is a given. The real issue is whether or not you trust the western nations to live up to their promises, or do you suspect that when it comes to make sacrifices those with all the bargaining power will leave the table. The third world is probably feeling a little like Charlie Brown right about now.
(For a heartwrenching depiction of how US Agricultural imports are having devestating effects on Jamaican milk producers you might want to watch Life and Debt, a movie about Jamaica and the effects that the IMF, WB and IADB have had on that country)
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