Bush to EU - Give up farming subsidies.

That’s the first and most ridiculous problem. We spend 2 billion on subsidising our farmers harming the African economy, and then 1 billion on AID. Talk about pointless.

But that’s against the WTO targets. Ideally, we want to strive for open markets world-wide. If people behave according to the WTO guidelines, we can all get along, and if they don’t, we can use WTO approved sanctioning. The point is trying to get and keep trade fair. A good rule of thumb would be that a country would be allowed to protect its market, perhaps limited to basic needs such as foods, as long as it does not also export those same products.

As for making sure there’s enough food, well, again, the import/export ratio comes to mind. Producing just enough to keep your national reserves up to scratch isn’t comparable to highly subsidized price-fixing for the local market and dumping the rest on export. Spending that much money on subsidies, you would be cheaper off if you put everyone related on welfare or make them game-keepers/forresters.

Vegetables and grains can be grown fast in greenhouses and if you take about a 10th of what we feed our livestock, that suffices to keep all of us going without starving for a very long time.

It wouldn’t just be more competitive, it would blow U.S. sugar prices away. Many candy companies have moved to Canada, so that they can use sugar at the world price, rather than at the U.S. price. Cotton and tobacco are strongly supported, but the most absurd is peanuts. I doubt Bush would dare to actually try and take away the supports for these crops. How can any of them claim to support free trade?

I must be missing something in this discussion. I thought Bush was proposing to get rid of farm subsidies on BOTH sides.

Now, I’m unsure what the ‘Doha Round’ of global trade talks is exactly (I’ll have to look it up), but it seems to me Bush is saying that the best thing to do is to get rid of the subsidies on both sides (i.e. the US AND Europe). On the surface of it I’d have to say this sounds like a great idea…and it kind of runs a bit contrary to other posters in this thread saying this is just a ploy on Bush’s part to make the US more competetive (or the ‘you first’ snipe suggesting the US wants Europe to get rid of subsidies while maintaining our own) etc. Maybe the devil is in the details on this one but…it looks like a good step to me to have the US and Europe get rid of the things.

As to the debt point raised…again, I’m a bit confused. To me it looks like wiping out the debt (or at least lowering it quite a bit) of 18 poor countries (including countries in Africa) IS on the table for discussion:

And it looks like Blair got Bush to agree to double US aid to Africa by 2010 from $4.3 billion to $8.6 billion. Myself, I’m not too happy about increasing aid to Africa without some kind of assurances that said aid will actually reach the African PEOPLE, and not rot on a dock or be grabbed by some warlord with a bunch of thugs with guns, but it seems like SOME progress is being made.


Not only is sugar protected, corn is heavily subsidised, making it a double whammy for US candy makers. Why do you think there is an active grey market in Mexican Coca Cola which uses cane sugar rather than High Fructose Corn Syrup? Because of the distorting effects of the Corn industry and Sugar industry. There have been a number of studies which claim that a major factor in the obesity epidemic in the US stems from the overuse of HFCS in candy and soft drinks. So on top of the billions spent subsidising corn makers, you guys spend billions more on increased health costs from obesity.

And the worry about feeding yourselves is frankly ludicrious paranoia. The US is not going to be blacklisted from every major trading partner without knowing about it many years in advance. It’s not like every world leader is going to wake up one day and say lets go out and starve the US.

And not all food can be shifted out of the US, transportation costs and time means that there are significant advantages to producing food locally. All the food that makes economic sense to produce elsewhere in large quantities: sugar, wheat, coffee etc. are all exactly the types of things that can be stored for absurdly long periods of time. Things which are highly perishable are simply too expensive to import in anything but trivial quantities.

I’d agree that it would be good if both the U.S. and Europe got rid of their ag subsidies. But given that Bush didn’t have the courage to even maintain the status quo a few years ago when his popularity was riding at 90%, but instead signed a whopping new subsidy bill, how does anyone expect he’s going to have that sort of guts now??

I stand behind my snipe.

I agree with your concerns. But the problem is that Bush has previously promised large chunks of money for Africa, but it seems mighty slow in getting there. It’s easy to say you’re going to give lots of money to some good cause.