February 11, 2003

THE FREE TRADER (via John Thacker):

U.S. Ready to End Tariffs on Textiles in Hemisphere (ELIZABETH BECKER, February 11, 2003, NY Times)
As the first stage in negotiations to expand free trade throughout the Western Hemisphere, the Bush administration is offering to lift all tariffs on textiles and apparel within five years.

The proposal will be presented on Tuesday by Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, who prepared the offer to cover duties on everything from beef to lamps while making special concessions for the poorest nations, a senior trade official said. The goal, Mr. Zoellick said, is the eventual elimination of duties on goods and services from throughout North and South America.

But the administration will refuse to discuss reducing America's multibillion-dollar agricultural subsidies in the negotiations because they are not tariffs, the senior official said. [...]

But Brazil, the largest Latin American economy and a leading agricultural exporter, is the co-chairman of those talks with the United States and is expected to demand a reduction in farm subsidies.

"Agriculture subsidies are the critical issue here," said Riordan Roett, director of Western Hemisphere studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. "This offer is not going to fly unless there is some give on subsidies."

Last year, the United States approved an 80 percent increase in farm subsidies, promising to pay the nation's biggest producers nearly $180 billion over 10 years to grow wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and cotton. One-third of those crops are exported, amounting to a huge unfair trade barrier, according to many agricultural and trade experts.

The administration says that it will not abandon the farm subsidies until Europe does the same through negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

"Otherwise, we would be disarming unilaterally," the senior trade official said.

It would be nice to get the Europeans to trade freely but it's not going to happen. We sould just disarm unilaterally and let them subsidize our diets if that's what they coose to do. Meanwhile, a year ago all you heard from libertarians was how protectionist George W. Bush was--presumably they're still polishing their apologies. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2003 4:07 PM

Sounds like great news but I thought Roger Milliken and the like would oppose this as hard as they could.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 11, 2003 4:38 PM

Great to have your diet subsidized, unless you are a farmer to begin with, and then you end up with no money to buy even cheap food.

Posted by: Harry at February 11, 2003 4:57 PM


What ever happened to all the blacksmiths?

Posted by: oj at February 11, 2003 5:03 PM

We still have 'em in my village. Many horses, four times as many horsehoes.

Posted by: Harry at February 11, 2003 10:10 PM