30 June 2007

Protecting the global poor

From Prospect
Almost all rich countries got wealthy by protecting infant industries and limiting foreign investment. But these countries are now denying poor ones the same chance to grow by forcing free-trade rules on them before they are strong enough.
and the conclusion
Therefore, if they are genuinely to help developing countries develop through trade, wealthy countries need to accept asymmetric protectionism, as they used to between the 1950s and the 1970s. The global economic system should support the efforts of developing countries by allowing them to use more freely the tools of infant industry promotion—such as tariff protection, subsidies, foreign investment regulation and weak IP rights.

There are huge benefits from global integration if it is done in the right way, at the right speed. But if poor countries open up prematurely, the result will be negative. Globalisation is too important to be left to free-trade economists, whose policy advice has so ill served the developing world in the past 25 years.
Global free trade only works if there is a level playing field.

And what about food aid to Africa? It is for the benefit of the USA and other donor countries, not for poor nations. From the Observer last month
It's early May and Malawi seems to be awash with corn. On the roads, trucks heavy with pale yellow maize heads rumble from the fields; in the villages nearly every woman and child is at work stripping the little kernels from their cobs, singing the harvest songs that give a rhythm to their work. Other women are pounding the maize with a giant pestle and mortar into flour to make the national staple dish - nzima - corn mash. (The men mostly seem to be occupied drinking the new season's maize beer.) It has been the best harvest in a dozen years or more. So why - and this is what we've come here to ask - in this time of historic plenty, is the rich world still sending its unwanted food to Malawi?
Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Today was a busy day. I was up early this morning and went to the farmers' market with Mary. So nice to have fresh sour dough bread, pumpkin bread and crusty Italian bread again.

This afternoon I went into town to watch Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer with Jordan.

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Then tonight I went to the Canberra Labor Club to watch the football game between Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide, which my team narrowly lost. Results tomorrow.

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