The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
An offer we can´t refuse?
By Jabez Clegg

The FT has news on the US offer to cut farm subsidies.

Trade talks obviously work on the basis that they will cut theirs if we cut ours, so this is good news. But there is a lot of work to do. The UK Government stomped around at the Brussels summit in June, arguing for big cuts in subsidy. Sadly when Margaret Beckett went to talk to the European Parliament about her plans, they found that she had none: it had all been just words.

In practice it is just possible that the EU has made enough commitments to scrap export refunds (and thus, presumambly, reduce EU prices for agricultural commodities to world market levels) to force the decision through. The forces of reaction will be massing though, and even this cannot be taken for granted.

But if we are going to get an agreement to cut farm prices, it is just about unthinkable that we will also get agreement to scrap farm support at the same time. Freezing farm support in nominal terms might be possible, and this would be worth having too. This will take some real diplomacy from Brown and Blair (not to mention Mandelson). So don´t bet on it happening.
posted by Apollo Project @ 2:07 pm  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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