World trade talks are getting hot and tense. The NY Times/International Herald Tribune criticizes the EU and Japan for rejecting the US proposal that
The United States would slash the allowable farm subsidies by 60 percent. In return, Europe and Japan would cut their subsidies by 83 percent - a higher percentage because countries in Europe, along with Japan, have higher subsidies.
Farm subsidies are a major burden for tax payers and the developing world:
The developed world funnels nearly $1 billion a day in subsidies to its own farmers, encouraging overproduction. That drives down prices and leaves farmers in poor nations unable to compete with subsidized products, even within their own countries. In recent years, American farmers have been able to dump cotton, wheat, rice, corn and other products on world markets at prices that do not begin to cover their cost of production, all because of politicians - and at the expense of American taxpayers. Europe's system is even worse: U.S. farm subsidies are equal to only a third of the European Union's.
Washington Post's Paul Blustein opines that the global trade negotiations "appear to have reached their gravest moment since the collapse of a WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico, two years ago" and blames primarily France for opposing the liberalizing of the EU's agricultural markets:
"We are now down to days," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. "If something isn't put together by the end of this month, then I do really believe that this Doha Round is in real jeopardy. Certainly the Hong Kong meeting would be in jeopardy."
Reuters reports progress on solving the transatlantic aviation disputes:
The European Union and the United States have agreed key elements of a first-stage deal on an "open skies" pact, the two sides said on Friday, paving the way for opening aviation markets on both sides of the Atlantic. The talks, which restarted on Monday after fizzling more than a year ago, aim to loosen restrictions that determine where airlines can fly, boost competition, and possibly ease ownership rules to make international mergers easier to execute.
Update: The Red
Cross has not received enough donations after Katrina, reports the Washington
American Red Cross asked Americans to give more to help hurricane victims,
saying the $853 million donated for Katrina is less than half what's needed.
Rita will require even more.
not yet agreed on how to pay for the estimated $ 200 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast
after Katrina's destruction, but NASA proudly presented plans to spend $104
billion to return to the moon. While
Rita's destructions will increase the federal bill and the debate about national spending priorities considerably, Katrina has,
according to the Dallas Morning News, already
the fiscal and social debate about how the nation can care for the poor and pay
for the retirement of the baby boom generation while maintaining tax and
economic policies that stimulate investment and growth. Those concerns,
combined with worries about chronic budget deficits, have spurred lawmakers and
lobbyists to dust off their favorite ideas on taxes, spending and pork.
Continue reading "How to pay for Katrina and Rita?"
to get out of Iraq
intensifies as well.... Here are some of the proposals to pay for the
rebuilding of the Gulf
The leading neo-con magazine “The Weekly Standard” runs an article on transatlantic disagreements on free trade, airbus and agricultural subsidies, the US trade deficit.
The Europeans and the developing nations profess horror at the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. They say he doesn't know anything about development, but really worry that he knows too much: that loans to undemocratic kleptocracies might fatten Swiss bank accounts, but do little to fatten starving citizens of so-called developing countries. But Gerhard Schröder and his friends were reluctant to oppose the Wolfowitz appointment, lest they appear to be snubbing President Bush's recent friendly overtures. So they approved the appointment, and will seek a quid pro quo--the appointment of France's Pascal Lamy to fill the vacancy at the head of the World Trade Organization. Lamy is dedicated to the maintenance of the European Union's protectionist agricultural policy, which further enriches well-off French farmers at the expense of poor farmers in developing nations. If he is appointed, and spurns Bush's proposal to end both E.U. and U.S. export-inducing farm subsidies, the Doha round is doomed.