Thursday, February 03, 2005

trade, cotton and the principle of hypocrisy.

Last week, John Howard (rightly) got stuck into the EU for maintaining protectionist agricultural policies. It is true that, as JWH says;
the trade policy of the European Union, ... [has] denied access to ... agricultural exporters from some of the poorest countries in the world.

By all means criticise this, Mr Howard. I am a supporter of trade liberalisation, particularly as a means of aiding developing countries. But, if you are going to do this, and for the sake of the credibility of the argument with the developing countries, please apply the principle of free trade in a consistent manner.

What about the Americans? (Oh. That's right, European criticism of George Bush is "ridiculous").

As reported in USA Today, whilst US cotton producers were busy growing bumper crops, they were receiving roughly 1.5 times the market price per bale. This amounted to $US 2.7 bn in 2003.

This is important stuff - the issue of cotton is a major part of the Doha Development Agenda, and holds major opportunities for the economic expansion of a number of LDCs. And yet our Prime Minister, proudly batting for the liberalisation of trade, refuses to criticise the Americans for fighting tooth and fucking nail to protect their cotton growers from those who can produce at less cost and for greater communal benefit!

To quote our Prime Minister again, this denies "agricultural exporters from some of the poorest countries in the world". And we won't say anything about it because it is the Americans that are doing it.

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