Today (Monday, August 18, 2003) with only a few weeks to go before the World Trade Organisation meets in Cancun the Guardian is launching a new website with a single aim:
Help the poorest countries by kicking into oblivion All Agricultural Subsidies
Eat the last free lunch in economics. Everyone gains. Abolition would save Western governments over $300 billion a year (equivalent to a cashback of over $200 for everyone) while giving a huge boost to agriculture in developing countries. Poor countries could sell products – like sugar, cereals and skimmed milk – they are much better suited to produce. At the moment they are being undercut even in their own domestic markets by subsidised Western produce. Sometimes trade is better than aid. And it costs nothing.
The present system doesn't even do what it claims to do. According to the OECD less than half of the $300 billion handouts get through even to the most efficient farmers. Even farmers would gain from abolition – by kicking subsidies that have become a dependency habit.
Abolishing agricultural subsidies is one of the very few campaigns that unites right, left and centre. Join us and kickAAS.
WHAT NEXT? Last week's policy agreement between the US and Europe made some progress but keeps the same level of subsidies only administered in a different way. We need suggestions how to generate a globalized campaign to make politicians in the most subsidy-ridden regions – Europe and the US - sit up and listen. Time is running out. The next round of trade talks in Cancun starts next month. Developing countries, particularly in Africa don't have the political or economiic clout to stand up to the US/EU juggernaut.
They need help now. Please post your support, spread the word and give us suggestions.
Keep it simple – abolish ALL agricultural subsidies: kickAAS