sábado, novembro 22, 2003
U.S. PROTECTIONISM BELIES FREE-TRADE RHETORIC
Steel tariffs endorsed early in the Bush administration -- and declared illegal recently by the World Trade Organization -- illustrate a horrible hypocrisy long popular in Washington, DC.
If the U.S. government is to implement a Free Trade Area of the Americas in 2005, as it had claimed was feasible, Washington therefore must deal with the fact that its own protectionist policies are one of the greatest obstacles to free trade in the Western Hemisphere. It is precisely Washington's hypocrisy on free trade which gives South American protectionists a plausible case for stalling trade negotiations, according to Ariel Dillon, public policy intern at the Independent Institute.
Consider, for example, last year's domestic agricultural legislation. "In July 2002, the Bush Administration announced plans to foster more global access for agricultural exports by lowering tariffs and subsidies worldwide. However, shortly afterward, Congress and President Bush pushed through the 2002 Farm Bill, a 10-year, $180-billion package that will increase farm subsidies by 70 percent," writes Dillon in a new op-ed.
"Clearly, America is trying to have its cake and eat it too. By holding on to subsidies and tariffs, the United States gives the appearance that it's trying to con South America into liberalizing its markets, only to be demolished by America's government-supported industries. U.S. officials correctly tout the potential benefits of the FTAA for South America, claiming that access to and competition with the North will help them grow stronger, but Brazil and others know that this won't happen unless America opens up too."
If Washington's erstwhile free-traders believe that free trade constitutes another "third rail" of American politics (as Social Security reform was and probably is again), they would do well to follow the examples of New Zealand and Australia, Dillon argues.
"Both countries eliminated most farm subsidies in the 1980s. Instead of putting farmers out of business, the subsidy cuts gave farmers the incentive to operate based on market demand. Without government paychecks, farmers stopped producing goods for which there was little demand and began to more efficiently produce goods according to their comparative advantage and the market's demands."
Concludes Dillon: "There is no reason why lifting subsidies from American farmers would not ave these same results."
posted by Miguel Noronha 4:33 da tarde
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