At last, there are signs of movement in the international trade talks that have been stalled by the reluctance of industrialised countries (especially the US, Europe and Japan) to give up agriculture subsidies.
The US is offering to reduce its ceiling on farm subsidies from $48 billion to $15 billion - as long as developing countries reduce their import restrictions. Now $15 billion is still $15 billion too much - but it sure sounds like a giant step in the right direction. Except that, as Lisa Schlein points out high farm prices meant that actual hand-outs amounted to only $7 billion last year. So it is all being done by mirrors again.
In truth agriculture subsidies - which prevent developing countries from exploiting their own farming advantages - are immoral and economic madness in their own right. They should be abolished unilaterally and not made conditional on developing countries giving quid pro quo concessions. The sky-high price of food products at the moment has created a boom that ought to provide the ideal moment to abolish them altogether with minimum damage to farmers (while providing much needed income to governments which won't have to shell out so much in subsidies). But at least the international trade talks are still on the road. We should be thankful for small mercies.