Thursday, May 28, 2009

Twenty-nine countries protest reintroduction of US Dairy Export Subsidies

Twenty-nine countries at the World Trade Organization criticized the United States on Wednesday for reintroducing export subsidies on US dairy products, calling the handouts a dangerous retreat into protectionism and warning of “subsidy wars."

Brazil, speaking on behalf of 23 developing countries, told a WTO meeting that Washington was promoting a "murky protectionism" that weakens the global trading system at a time when global commerce is already shrinking at a record pace.

Australia, on behalf of agricultural exporting countries, said the announcement Saturday by US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of subsidies for 91.000 tonnes of mainly powdered milk, butter and cheese was unfair to countries trading fairly, and potentially damaging to global economy's recovery.

The subsidy decision under the US Dairy Export Incentive Program follows a similar move by the European Union in January.

[Source] -- MercoPress


I would like to take a moment to reflect on a old post I wrote a little under a year ago, on June 19, 2008. It is one third about Southern Copper Peru (PCU), one third about sky rocketing commodity prices, and one third about a intense protest I witnessed in Tarapoto, Peru in 2002. I was in Tarapoto during a family trip to the region to visit my maternal grandfathers home town of Rioja. I may be a bit biased but the province of San Martín is a beautiful region of Peru I highly recommend people visiting Peru check out.

I'm going to reflect specifically on the third topic—the protest. If would like you can click here to read my entire post from 6/19/2008.


In 2002 I was visiting Tarapoto, Peru. The city is located in the Peruvian province of San Martin, Peru. Rice workers had paralyzed the region because US subsidies had made locally produced rice more expensive than imported rice from the US--which ironically was also widely available in this region of Peru which a large amount of rice.

Tarapoto, Peru

By my fourth day in the city protesters had taken over the town square and blocked the roads to my grandpas home town of Rioja. As a tourist who was fortunate to have family in the city I was able to to get back to Lima before the city was forced to shut down. My family and I were woken up at 6am one morning and quickly informed by my grandpa's brothers we needed rush through the back roads of the jungle and get to the airport as soon as possible. Once we arrived at the airport we were rushing into a back office with other tourists holding US, Canadian and European passports, until a flight could take us all to Lima... all the while protesters attempted to rush the airport gates.

It is ironic food prices are now so high, Tarapoto's Rice industry is now growing rice and actually making a profit, although US subsidies still aren't help the overall market. The fact and main point I am attempting to get across is that all it took for protesters to paralyze the region was to create a blockade one highway--leaving the city isolated.

Click here to view a excerpt from the only link to an English language article I was able to find that still had an active link.

If you can read Spanish, I have found two articles. The first article describes how the situation unfolded. The second article explains the accord which was eventually reached by the protesters and the government.


Benito's conclusion... The United States needs to re-think their protectionist policies, especially when it comes to such goods as cotton, food and other agricultural commodities. Easier said than done, but no less a necessary change that needs to happen sooner than later.