World View: World Trade Agreement Permits India to Stockpile Rice, Wheat

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • World trade agreement permits India to stockpile rice and wheat
  • France asks for help, as it becomes embroiled in C.A.R.'s war

World trade agreement permits India to stockpile rice and wheat

World Trade Organization president Roberto Azevedo (center) joins the other delegates in cheering their 'historic' agreement on Saturday in Bali
World Trade Organization president Roberto Azevedo (center) joins the other delegates in cheering their 'historic' agreement on Saturday in Bali

You never know what nonsense is going to come out of a meeting of 159 politicians like the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Bali this week. In between sunnin' and surfin', the representatives of 159 companies came up with an agreement that WTO chief Roberto Azevedo described as "historic," but which is little more than a list of promises that will never be fulfilled. They had to come up with something, because the WTO has accomplished exactly NOTHING since it was founded in 1995, and people were saying that if another proposed agreement collapsed, then it might mean the end of the WTO itself, and we know that politicians don't want any bureaucracy to end, especially one that sends them for paid vacations at top-notch resorts like Bali. That's why WTO members roared and thumped desks as the deal was approved.

Still, the major disagreement that had to be overcome was an interesting one, having to do with "food security." India has a huge population, including many who are hungry and in poverty, and so India buys up rice and wheat and stockpiles it for times of need. But according to WTO rules, stockpiling rice and wheat is a way of subsidizing them, and any form of subsidy is against WTO rules.

There were other disagreements as well. Cuba, supported by Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, had threatened to walk out of the talks unless the agreement contained language condemning the 50-year-old American embargo of Cuba.

In the end, all of those difficult problems were swept under the rug and postponed. The deal that was signed calls on countries to lower their tariffs and trade barriers, and when a country signed the agreement, it was promise to do that ... some day. They're claiming that this "historic" agreement will boost global trade and the world economy by $1 trillion, but that's just the usual hot air. The agreement does so little that we might imagine that at least it won't do too much HARM to the global economy. In the meantime, the politicians' paid vacations at Bali-like resorts have been saved, and that's what's important. Times of India and Deutsche Welle

France asks for help, as it becomes embroiled in C.A.R.'s war

French troops continued to pour into Central African Republic on Saturday, around concerns that the war between Muslim Séléka rebels and Christian anti-Balaka rebels would turn into a full-scale genocide. According to president François Hollande, France has 1600 troops in CAR by Saturday evening.

France sent 4,000 troops to Mali earlier this, in an operation described as vital to keep Mali from become a new Afghanistan-style stronghold for armed Islamist groups. The intervention in CAR is described as a humanitarian operation designed to avoid thousands of deaths in a bloody conflict that might resemble the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Intervention in CAR promises to be very expensive, and Hollande is requesting international aid. According to Hollande:

"Europe can play its part. For Europe to ensure its own defence, Africa must be able to ensure its own. Our interests are linked. Terrorism knows no borders."

Hollande hopes that Britain, Germany and other European Union countries will contribute, but so far they haven't expressed any enthusiasm. However, the African Union has promised to increase the size of its own force to 6,000, from its current level of 2,500. This situation is showing all the signs of something that will get a lot worse for a long time. AFP and BBC


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