, which The Economist is giving away (so I don't have to re-post it in its entirety), gainsays what's been plainly true to me for years now: that eliminating farm subsidies will automatically help poor countries.
This is the most salient paragrpah:
But as the round inches forward, some free-traders are troubled. Jagdish Bhagwati, an economist at Columbia University and author of a book defending globalisation, is one of them. Agricultural subsidies are certainly undesirable, he wrote recently in the Far Eastern Economic Review. But the claim that removing them will help the poorest countries is "dangerous nonsense" and a "pernicious" fallacy.
Arvind Panagariya, a colleague of Mr Bhagwati's at Columbia University, agrees*. His argument rests on a surprising observation: most poor countries are net importers of agricultural goods. A study in 1999 found that 33 of the 49 poorest countries import more farm goods than they export; 45 of them are net importers of food. Subsidies depress the price of agricultural products on world markets. That hurts rival exporters, as Burkina Faso can testify. But importers gain.
The argument that subsides help poor importers isn't quite perfect, because as they oint out, poor countries are importers of almost everything. They finish up the article by explaining just how bad tariffs are. Very interesting stuff. But you can read for yourself.
-Daddy Brooklyn 00:09 EST |