Ed’s Weblog

…now my real blog

The Guardian kicks aas

Posted by Ed on August 18, 2003

A leader in today’s Guardian announces the launch of a new website, kickAAS, campaigning for the abolition of all agricultural subsidies. This comes in the runup to the next round of WTO trade talks in Cancun, Mexico, which will almost certainly see developing countries stitched up once again.

It is economic and social madness for Europe to be growing, for instance, subsidised sugar beet when its average cost of production is more than double that of efficient exporters such as Brazil and Zambia. It is only possible thanks to ludicrous subsidies, including protective tariffs of up to 140%.

America’s 25,000 cotton farmers received more than $3bn in subsidies last year, equivalent to 100% of the market value of cotton output. This works out at a staggering subsidy of $230 an acre. West Africa, one of the mostdeprived places on earth, happens to be one of the most efficient cotton producers, with an estimated 11 million people dependent on cotton as their main source of income. But it can’t compete with subsidised products from the US, which has 40% of world exports. If subsidies were removed, West Africa, according to IMF figures, could produce profitably at two thirds of US production costs.

From the kickAAS site:

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.

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