Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, October 24, 2005

The villain in the piece? France...
In the developing nation fight to reduce choking agricultural subsidies, France has been the incessant leader of the EU cabal stubbornly refusing to make any change. French agricultural subsidies are amongst the highest in the world, and their power in the EU has continually blocked that market to developing nation farmers. Australia, to their credit, has finally highlighted the issue in statements made by Australian trade minister Mark Vaile:

"They [France] need to understand they are threatening the future of global trade and cheating millions of the world's poor out of new hope. It's not enough for them to provide aid and debt relief when the benefits of liberalizing trade are so much greater."

Some have suggested the Hong Kong meeting should be delayed if the EU does not produce an offer to significantly lower its agricultural trade barriers -- an idea Vaile rejected.

"I don't believe the meeting should be postponed, even if the EU does not put forward a better proposal," Vaile said. "I believe that the EU and France would need to account for their actions before the parliament of world opinion."

Couldn't agree more. The effects of these agricultural subsidies negates aid efforts made by France in the developing world, and they should be forced to concede this point. Public awareness within France and pressure from other governments has to be increased, as the only method left open to force France's - and thus the EU's - hand.