Wed 17 Sep, 2003 12:24 pm
On the WTO, Western Economic Imperialism and Predation; and Third World solidarity
As witnessed by the latest meeting of the WTO in Cancún, Mexico, the governments of Europe, Japan and the United States of America, the "G-3," merely pay lip service to the idea of "free trade." Like previous WTO meetings, there was no change in these countries' stance on agricultural subsidies, those that allow the flooding of world markets with artificially low priced produce at the expense of Third World farmers who are unable to compete in the artificial market.
The EU lead these countries in agricultural subsidies that total $41 billion dollars a year acording to a report published by the Center for the New Europe (CNE), "EU Trade Barriers Kill." It also imposes agricultural import tariffs between 20 and 250 percent. The U.S. of A's subsidies avarage $20 billion dollars annually ("Rethinking U.S. Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide," Daryll Ray, director of the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Centre (APAC), co-author). Japan imposes a 500 percent tariff on imported rice according to Stephen Castle in his article "Rich nations on back foot as poor seek fairer trade," The Independent.
The The First World countries, in turn, demand unfettered foreign investment, and reduced import taxes--taxes placed on their selfsdame subsidized produce.
Their interests lie, not in "free markets," but in unilateral protectionism, and corporate control of developing countries' resources.
One positive aspect of the Cancún meeting was the increasing solidarity of the developing world countries, "G-21," twenty-one countries lead by Brazil, China and India. They refused to cave on the demands of the G-3. Cancún is regarded as a failure, with little or nothing having been achieved by either side.
"The main demand of the Group of 21 is that Europe and the United States end subsidies that allow agricultural producers to dump -- or sell below cost -- farm products into poorer countries and, in so doing, put local farmers out of business." writes Jane Bussey in her September 12 column in The Miami Herald "Nations dig in their heels at WTO face-off."
She goes on to quote Pedro Camago, the former agricultural trade negotiator for Brazil and an observer at these talks: ''We had to have a priority, which was agricultural dumping. Export dumping is difficult to defend. We have all the non-government organizations on our side -- both American and European.''
S. Lynne Walker, Copley News Service, in her September 16 article "Suicide underscored power shift in WTO" quotes John Cavanagh, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, "For the first time in over two decades, the most powerful poor countries have gotten together and taken a stand in their interests. They stood up to pressure that, in other times, they would not have been able to do. This may be a new era."
Walker's article refers to the protest suicide of South Korean farmer Kyung-hae Lee, who had lost his land after cheap, imported milk began pouring into South Korea.
"Lee stabbed himself in the heart as he sat atop a fence during a violent protest against the trade organization. He wore a sign saying, "WTO kills farmers" and led a crowd of 7,000 protesters in anti-trade chants before taking his life," she writes.
Wow, I had been thinking of updating some of the news concerning the WTO on this thread, and you come along and dredge it up from three years ago!