Spiga

We blame India (oh, and China too!)

Saw a video of Lou Dobbs on CNN last night, talking about the collapse of talks at the WTO. Pretty incisive commentary from him, very opinionated, but in my mind, extremely ignorant as well.

He did make one point though, that the US national media has largely ignored the WTO talks. Even in the UK, its been mentioned in the FT, the Guardian and the Times, but if Susan Schwab, the Us negotiator in Geneva, is correct in saying that "There has never in history been an international negotiation as complex as this one" - then the publicity this has received in at least the UK and US is nowhere near the publicity it deserves.

Thats obviously quite a stark difference from how news coverage has been in India - headline news every day.

Is this a sign that developing countries, perhaps, are becoming more globalised than developed western economies?

In any case, I am disappointed when even people like Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), say that "It is particularly disappointing that India was unwilling to compromise, and was a catalyst for the breakdown of the talks . The deal that was on the table offered promise for developing and developed countries alike."

Well if the deal on the table was as good as you say Richard, why was India unwilling to compromise? And you mention India, but China was not willing to compromise either.

For those that do not understand, in a nutshell, India and China together represent about a billion farmers - farming not the large farms like the kind we see in the west, but small holdings, less than an acre and using the same agricultural practices that have been used for thousands of years.

The developed countries on the other hand, subsidise their farmers, so if somebody is farming potatoes and it costs them £2 per kilo to grow them, the government gives them £1 back. This means that these farmers can sell these potatoes to countries like India - where the cost of growing potatoes is £1.20, but the Europeans (and Americans) are able to undercut Indian farmers on price because there's hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies behind them.

Now because of this reason, India does not allow agricultural imports and is unwilling to open up its markets in other areas because it needs its 600 million farmers to not starve. China needs the same.

The US and EU obviously want to protect their own farmers, even though they know that farming in the west is slowly becoming economically inviable.

The current food price crisis, would actually, in my opinion, cease to exist if instead of the west ploughing in money to sustain farming in their countries, would invest in transferring their technology to the developing world where farmers can benefit from it so world food production can go up.

That, obviously, will not happen, for developed countries are not directly interested in uplifting the rest of the world, they clearly, and more so in the case of the US, are more interested in 'preserving' their way of life. A very selfish aproach and one that is probably in for a rude shock sometime not too far in the future.

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