Friday, October 07, 2005

WTO exploding in the new government's face?

Norway is in the G10 group (also called "we don't care if you're poor"-countries) in the ongoing agricultural negotiations in WTO. According to at least two newspapers, the group is about to make massive concessions to food-exporting countries. Sources have been speculating about a 50% cut on all tarrifs above 90%, something that would make imported food cheaper than Norwegian food. Obviously the effect on the Norwegian agriculture, which is small-scale and inefficient, would be massive.

Foreign minster Jan Petersen and Minister of Agriculture Lars Sponheim have summoned the party leaders of all parties to a special meeting in the parliament, apparantly to sum up the current situation on the WTO trade negotiations.

Although most of us wouldn't mind cheaper food and actual development in Africa, Norwegian farmers are terrified of this situation. The new socialist goverment probably is as well, since they take over government two days before Norway has to flag sides. Farmers Party, although normally quite pacifistic, will want to nuke the WTO headquarter, and the Socialist Left is likely to believe that more people in Africa would starve if they started food exports (after all, supply is constant and there is already lack of food, oh wait, they don't really know what supply is...).

If the WTO succeeds, Norwegians will have the benefit of buying cheaper beef instead of a 25 years old cow, while helping developing nations at the same time. At the same time, if all Norwegian farmers went bust tomorrow, we'd face a negible increase in unemployment, and would save the money spent on benefits by not paying any subsidies.


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