Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's not just the Doha Round that failed...

I think the WTO itself is in serious trouble. The ability of farm interests in the EU and US to halt the negotiations will also embolden them to ignore impending deadlines for trade reform:

But the failure of WTO powers to agree means last year’s agreement for developed countries to eliminate all forms of export subsidies for cotton by the end of this year is now hanging in the balance.

Agreements for developing countries such as the overall elimination of agricultural export subsidies by 2013, an aid-for-trade package and duty-free access for the WTO’s poorest members are also on unsure footing. [More]

In the absence of other sectors realizing what has been lost and asserting political leverage, I think Congress will be working hard to shovel money out to the farm. The idea of shaping the new farm bill to be "WTO-compliant" could be a collateral casualty of the Doha breakdown.

My prediction: more - maybe even much more of the same. Congress has has a popularity rating even lower than the Cubs winning percentage, and heading back home to claim credit for subsidies is a tried and true game plan.
Rove expressed a need to shore up political support in farm states in advance of the Nov. 7 elections. Sources say an analysis by Rove showed that further cuts in farm program subsidies would be a major factor in several farm-state races this Nov. 7.

[This from Jim Weisemeyer's frankly disheartening Inside Washington Report to ProFarmer members]
It also means our meat industry just got a 1-2 punch. Competition from ethanol to bid up feed costs and no help opening markets for their high-value products.

Strange way to treat your best customer!

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