Monday, December 01, 2008

Fruit Loops

In Doha, Qatar, talks are on again to straighten out the tangles that hold countries' products for ransom to duties. Banana wars may sound funny, but the major export has been used to keep less affluent countries economies chained to the powerful. Belgium is a major point of import for the fruit, and has kept duties high - which results in little profit for the exporter. Ecuadorian growers and shippers are trying to balance that trade more in their favor.

These are the squabbles that keep the powerful an edge on prosperity, and are increasingly a source of alienation between third world countries and the affluent. In the present worldwide economic plunge, the results are not just luxuries that the poorer nations can't attain, it's starvation.

Ecuador said on Wednesday it would not agree to agricultural accords in the Doha global trade talks next month if the European Union fails to settle a long-running banana dispute by then.

"Unfortunately, our country will not agree to the consensus to settle the agriculture terms of the (Doha) round ... if this problem is not properly resolved by then," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The world's top banana exporter reacted hours after the World Trade Organization upheld a ruling against the EU in the lung-running "banana wars" pitting Brussels against the United States and Latin American producers.

Brussels responded by saying it accepted the ruling and intended to seek a resolution to the dispute in the context of negotiations over the Doha Round global trade treaty, which world leaders are seeking to clinch next month.

The refusal to back down is increasingly becoming necessary for Latin American and other developing economies' government. The pressures at home for equal access to necessities of life, resentment of the greed ethic of western nations, and actual growing desperation, require them to toughen up. As a result, Doha has broken down in recent times.

While the matters of high finance have not always drawn much attention from the world at large, it is time now for responsibility for allowing access to basic necessities to be part of the negotiation. The IMF and World Bank have caused affluent nations' produce to be used in aid to poorer nations, and this has prevented those nations from developing their own agricultural systems. That is no longer even feasible, and it is dubious that it was ever desirable.

With new leadership in our executive branch, the emphasis has been taken off of making the wealthy ever wealthier at the expense of those who are struggling. The way should be cleared for the U.S. to join in on world efforts to fight hunger and poverty again. The years of greed have been bad for the U.S. economy and its character, as much as they have stressed world standards of well-being.

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