Saturday, March 17, 2007

whom is Doha saving?

Devinder Sharma reports on the two-day seminar "Saving Doha and delivering on development" held in New Delhi from 13th March.
India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath provided ample evidence of India's willingness to go along with the rich and industrialised countries. In what appears to be a u-turn in India's position so far, Mr Kamal Nath said: "This round is not about removal, but about reduction of distortions that lead to artificiality in prices."

Knowing well that Kamal Nath's 'tough' posturing is aimed only at the media, Lamy now made it abundantly clear that an agreement on Doha round has to be reached before the expiry of the US Trade Promotion Agreement in June. If the agreement is not signed by June, the US President will lose his Fast Track authority to approve international trade agreements, which means the US Senate/Congress will then oversee the agreements. That is why the US wants to hurry. If no agreement is signed by June it will still be beneficial for Indian agriculture. As long as the subsidies stay in the rich countries, we will not be able to protect our agriculture.

... the empirical evidence that Sandra Polaski of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace presented showing that the Doha round to be heavily biased against the developing countries, found few takers. The UNCTAD-India study on Green Box subsidies and the benefits it would throw for the developing countries if the support were to be abolished, also did not find many takers.

Whatever the US and EU may offer to keep Doha round is not going to translate into any actual reduction in the massive domestic support, this much is known. The US $360 billion support to agriculture in US, EU and Japan will remain intact. In fact, the US has announced more support to agriculture under its new Farm Bill 2007, and this is not surprising.

The tall claims of 'victory' at the conclusion of every WTO Ministerial and general council agreements speaks volumes about the incompetence and failure of the negotiators from the developing world. I don't know if any one of them has ever worked out cost and benefits accruing from the Doha round. Negotiators should be asked to openly spell out the benefits to their respective countries after they have inked an agreement. It is high time trade negotiators are made accountable to the society.

Meanwhile, Indian farmers and for that farmers in the other developing countries must continue to pay the price with their blood for yet another unseen 'development', which in reality means keeping agribusiness companies in western countries afloat.

On one hand the PM agrees to policies of WTO formed in Geneva, which benefit the developed countries and on the other hand thousands of farmers are committing suicides and he announces irrelevant relief packages.


gaddeswarup said...

More related to your old posts about BT cotton I found the articles by Glen Davis Stone interesting:
There are comments by Andrew Leonard in Some of the papers (in Current Anthropology) have comments by other experts and respones by Stone.See his response to Herring in the 2007 paper.
See also
which has some common content with the current post.

Purushottam said...

thanks for the links.
will certainly take a look.

-- puru