Tuesday, September 16, 2003

*A Moment of Silence*

A moment of silence for the demise of the latest round of trade talks....*sigh*

'Tis a great pity that the latest round have fallen through due to acrimonous bickering, supposedly due to the incompetible views between the developed and developing nations. On one side, the developed nations call for the Singapore Principles (named after the issues raised when the meeting came to this sunny island), which called for the rewriting of certain laws to cut through red tape and graft and liberalisation of capital flow. On the other, the developed nations, the G21, led by nations like India and China, who cry for a 'fairer' deal, where the developed nations liberalise their agriculture sector, drop the agriculture subsidies and allow for a freer market in such. Their war cry: It's better for a no deal than a bad deal.

Who's right and who's wrong? IMHO...a plague on both their houses.

If both issues were to be pushed through, the world would probably be a better place. Firstly, the obvious reasons, economic liberalisation is good in and of itself. The framework is already there. The distorting effects of protectionism would be removed. In particular, reforming the agriculture sector would be a massive boost to free trade and the general prosperity of the world. Removing graft and freeing capital in the deveolping world would achieve similar benefits, albeit in a longer time frame. Secondly, free trade would be given a boost, globalisation as a movement would be allowed to fulfill it's potential.

Reforming the agriculture policy of the developed world would be a serious boon. First world consumers would benefit from cheaper food. As the situation stands, because of CAP, EU's Common Agrticulture Policy, consumers in Europe pay thrice the world's prices for food. LDC (Less Developed Countries) would finally be allowed to participate in the global economy, no longer cut off from the markets of richer (First World) countries through direct barriers (quotas, import taxes) or indirect (subsidies that allow the home country or home countries' past colonies) to compete unfairly. This would probably be worth more than all the aid that their funneling to these countries in the first place.

A liberalisation and formalisation of rules would be similarly beneficial to all sides. First world nations would have more markets to enter and without fear of being caught out by unfair and illegal practices. Cut through the beauracracy and red tape, remove graft from the layers of government, and developed nations will see their economies pick up...simply from removing the self forged manacles and stop hobbling themselves.

If the reason for G21 was indeed to show their displeasure at what they saw to be a bad agenda, my sympathies would lie with them. But I simply get the feeling that economic logic was tossed aside in favour of political points. It seems they found more of a need to show they would not be beholden to what they preceive to be neo-colonism rather than try to forge a decent compromise and work within it. To them, trade is a zero-sum game, where they would rather much lose than accept less gain than the other party. The Malaysia Minister for Trade sums their attitude up rather perfect when she crowed that it shows they they would not be dictated to...*sigh*...*rolls eyes*...ye gods....

The 'wrath' of the US and EU means that the world is going to enter a phase of wasteful bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements. One does not have to enter the economic arguments to show the CBA...a simply mathematical demostration will surfice: Imagine instead of one agreement between three nations, you now have three. Between four nations, there are now six. Between five nations, there are now ten and so on and so forth...

As again globalisation suffers, the poor suffer, the people suffer, choice suffers, the rich suffer, all nations suffer, the generations suffer...

Haven't we suffered enough already?


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