[saymaListserv] DOHA rounds and superpower citizenship

Elizabeth Eames roeblingelizabeth at msn.com
Thu Aug 31 14:52:34 JEST 2006


Dear Friends,
    I recieved a Friendly critique of my last posting and wanted to clarify 
a few points. First is my deep sympathy for the stress that you all who live 
inside the US are under by having to be informed on so many different 
issues. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, I am under no pressure to have 
opinions, for instance, on Iran's nuclear program or the bombing of Lebanon. 
The concerns of the developing world, which are constant headline material 
where I live, hardly even appear in your newspapers or broadcasts. And also, 
I am well aware that FCNL responds to the concerns raised by the constituent 
meetings but does not set policy. And I do love the bottom up arrangement of 
Friends' operations.

The DOHA rounds refers to the international talks on the World Trade 
Organization which took place in Doha, Quattar, and recently collapsed. 
These are talks between the industrialized world and the developing world on 
different issues which broadly fall under the terms "globalization" and 
"fair trade". The Dominican Republic has just signed - along with nations in 
Central America - a "free trade agreement" (DR-CAFTA) similar to the one 
signed with Mexico years back (NAFTA). Under this agreement, there is a 
drastic reduction in import tarriffs for US goods. For instance, the DR, 
which is sugar producing nation, tried to hold out its tarriffs on 
high-fructose corn syrup used in Coca-Cola and the like, but was not able to 
do so. The DOHA talks were part of an ongoing attempt to level the playing 
field.

US rice production is heavily subsided, to the amount of over 600 million 
dollars a year. Over the last ten years, the rice subsidy alone has been $10 
billion.  The developing nations see this subsidy as an unfair trade 
practice and are trying to have the US, France, and Japan primarily reduce 
their subsidies.

US rice is preferred by many Dominicans for reasons only known to rice 
connaisseurs. Now much of it comes into the DR "illegally" from Haiti (which 
probably could not collect the tarrifs due no matter what they wanted to do) 
and is sold at the cross border markets. This subjects the Haitians selling 
it to even more harrassment from the cross border guards. One would think 
that if the US has a superior product, it would sell even at its fair market 
price.

Some subsidies might be a very good idea. For instance in the DR, the 
electricity is priced in tiers so that higher consumers pay a higher per 
killowatt charge, thus subsidizing the poor (or ecologically sensitive) 
consumers. That seems like a good plan.

So now Friends may have a better idea of my concern and can add it to their 
already overwhelming list of concerns. That is it in a rice husk........

Hey, it is not easy being a superpower citizen. That is one of the reasons 
that I moved.  Hope you get to play outside today.





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