The WTO’s draft modalities on agriculture, released by New Zealand’s Ambassador Crawford Falconer will allow the US and EU to go scot-free where it comes to domestic supports. According to Focus on the Global South, this is worrying since these domestic supports are today’s new form of hidden export subsidies.

The Falconer text calls on the US to bind its overall trade distorting domestic support at between 13 – 16.4 billion (the exact figure to be negotiated). In 2006, overall trade distorting support the US provided amounted to 10.8 billion. Given high world prices, the figure may even be smaller in 2007 - between 6 to 10 billion. If these modalities are adopted, no cuts are needed on the part of the US. The same holds true for the EU, which escapes unscathed, because it is shifting its supports to the undisciplined Green Box.

US domestic supports, particularly those concentrated in key commodity programmes, are unlikely to be touched (except for cotton) if the wording in the current draft prevails. These commodities include wheat, soya, corn and rice. These are staple crops in developing countries which have suffered from US dumping. US subsidises rice producers to the tune of 1.3 bn for rice that costs 1.4 billion to grow. Both US and EU poultry have wiped out local producers in West Africa, but these will continue to be grossly subsidized if these modalities are adopted. Dumping in the developing world will therefore not be curtailed. The text allows the US extra special treatment by providing it with a base period reference point (1995-2004) which include the years where US supports were some of the highest.

The bulk of domestic supports for the US and EU are being shifted to the infamous ‘Green Box’. Again, the draft is disappointing in that the disciplines suggested by the G20 – placing limits on Green Box provision so that they are channeled only to low-income farmers- have not been incorporated. For the EU, the Green Box is its new export subsidy pillar. EU is lowering its internal prices so that it can export competitively on the world market. Yet its producers receive a direct payment in order to compensate them for higher production costs.

According to Aileen Kwa of Focus on the Global South, “The Green Box is the primary instrument through which US and EU subsidies are now being provided. It is trade distorting by its sheer quantity. Yet the text falls short on rudimentary disciplines… If these modalities are accepted, millions of poor subsistence developing country farmers will be displaced. Green Box payments will be the new export subsidies of the post-Doha era.”

Even as developed countries are allowed to maintain their current levels of domestic supports, the cuts will affect certain developing countries –eg Indonesia, Thailand, India, Mexico. Developing countries in the past have tended to support agriculture only minimally, and this has contributed to the growing income disparity between the urban and rural sectors. These countries are now asked to reduce their price based agricultural supports by up to 50—60 percent.

Canadian Ambassador Donald Stephenson’s text on industrial products proposing that developing countries bring down their tariffs to a maximum of 19 – 23 percent (and 28.5 for a group of “paragraph 6” countries) will not help the majority of developing countries struggling to move up the industrialization ladder. Developing countries in fact will reduce their tariffs by a larger percentage than what Stephson has asked the developed countries to do.

Whilst promising development, the texts proposed will paralyse developing countries’ industries, and consign their farmers to further poverty. Developing country governments must resist these desperate efforts to save an unequal international trading system.

Contacts; Aileen Kwa +41 79 625 8536; Walden Bello +662 2187363/4/5

Originally from Focus on the Global South on July 21, 2007, 4:34am


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe

  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 – present, website developer and writer. 2015 – present, insurance broker.

    Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration.

    Volunteerism: 2007 – present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.

    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.