Friday, August 1, 2008

WTO should give developing countries policy space

Here is a piece from The Guardian. The writers from GADE blame the US's intransigence for collapse of the WTO talks and believe that the developing countries were right to walk away...well, it is everybody's fault for the failure, not only US's!:

...Rich-country negotiators, and even those from agricultural export powers like Brazil, expressed surprise that the issue that brought down the negotiations was something as seemingly arcane as the "special safeguard mechanism" - the right for developing country governments to raise tariffs in the event of sudden or large increases in imports that threaten to undermine domestic producers. They shouldn't have been. The measure is exactly the kind of "policy space" for development that the poorest countries have sought from this so-called development round.

...Cheap, subsidised imports of staple foods - markets the US and other developed countries dominate - flooded local markets, driving down prices and putting already-poor farmers out of business. Each country became more dependent on imported food, losing its capacity to produce its own. Then prices spiked, exposing the life-threatening danger of such policies.

Any government that wants to take the food security of its residents seriously needs precisely the kind of policy instruments India and China were demanding.

More stuff on the collapse of the WTO talks here in my earlier post.