quinta-feira, maio 20, 2004
O editorial da Spectator congratula-se com a proposta, avançada pela Comissão Europeia, em acabar com os subsídios à exportação de produtos agrícolas mas avisa que, para terminarem as distorções nos mercados agricolas, é necessário é necessário acabar de vez com a PAC.
The distortions created by subsidies and tariffs are an inconvenience to Western consumers, who have to pay more for their food as a result. But they are devastating to the world's poor. In a free market, a far greater proportion of the food eaten in Europe and America would be grown in developing countries than is the case at present. This is so because it is developing countries that have the comparative advantage in agriculture: their labour costs and land prices are lower. Yet at present we have the bizarre spectacle of America exporting rice to Haiti and the European Union exporting tomatoes to Ghana - all thanks to generous subsidies paid to American and European farmers. Taxpayers in developed nations, in other words, are helping to undermine the main industry in which developing nations have a comparative advantage. This isn't just bad economics; it is immoral. According to Oxfam, which last year produced a report on the effects of trade barriers on the world's poor, trade barriers cost poor countries £100 billion a year, twice what they receive annually in aid. If poor countries were allowed to increase their share of world trade by just 1 per cent, it would lift 128 million people out of poverty.
Welcome though it is, last week's announcement by Pascal Lamy should not be taken for granted. Europe's agricultural lobby is powerful and will not give up its subsidies without a fight. Nor is the ending of export subsidies enough: all support for farmers in Europe should be phased out, just as it was in New Zealand in the 1980s, much to the benefit of consumers and, as it has proved, the farming industry too. The proposed "reform" of the CAP is absurd: it will mean the end of farmers being paid to produce unwanted quantities of milk; yet they will continue to receive handouts simply for being farmers - without necessarily producing any food at all.
The real battle of ideology being waged across the globe at present is between free trade and protectionism: between those who see trade as a generator of wealth and peace across the world, and those who just want to stand up for the little guy down the road. The ending of export subsidies would be a small victory for free trade, but one which points Europe in the right direction.
posted by Miguel Noronha 4:53 da tarde
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