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

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 159politicians like the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Balithis week. In between sunnin’ and surfin’, the representatives of 159companies came up with an agreement that WTO chief Roberto Azevedodescribed as “historic,” but which is little more than a list ofpromises that will never be fulfilled. They had to come up withsomething, because the WTO has accomplished exactly NOTHING since itwas founded in 1995, and people were saying that if another proposedagreement collapsed, then it might mean the end of the WTO itself, andwe know that politicians don’t want any bureaucracy to end, especiallyone that sends them for paid vacations at top-notch resorts like Bali.That’s why WTO members roared and thumped desks as the deal wasapproved.

Still, the major disagreement that had to be overcome was aninteresting one, having to do with “food security.” India has a hugepopulation, including many who are hungry and in poverty, and so Indiabuys up rice and wheat and stockpiles it for times of need. Butaccording to WTO rules, stockpiling rice and wheat is a way ofsubsidizing 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 talksunless the agreement contained language condemning the 50-year-oldAmerican embargo of Cuba.

In the end, all of those difficult problems were swept under the rugand postponed. The deal that was signed calls on countries to lowertheir tariffs and trade barriers, and when a country signed theagreement, it was promise to do that … some day. They’re claimingthat this “historic” agreement will boost global trade and the worldeconomy by $1 trillion, but that’s just the usual hot air. Theagreement does so little that we might imagine that at least it won’tdo too much HARM to the global economy. In the meantime, thepoliticians’ paid vacations at Bali-like resorts have been saved, andthat’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 onSaturday, around concerns that the war between Muslim Séléka rebelsand Christian anti-Balaka rebels would turn into a full-scalegenocide. According to president François Hollande, France has 1600troops in CAR by Saturday evening.

France sent 4,000 troops to Mali earlier this, in an operationdescribed as vital to keep Mali from become a new Afghanistan-stylestronghold for armed Islamist groups. The intervention in CAR isdescribed as a humanitarian operation designed to avoid thousands ofdeaths in a bloody conflict that might resemble the genocide in Rwandain 1994.

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

“Europe can play its part. For Europe to ensure itsown defence, Africa must be able to ensure its own. Our interestsare linked. Terrorism knows no borders.”

Hollande hopes that Britain, Germany and other European Unioncountries will contribute, but so far they haven’t expressed anyenthusiasm. However, the African Union has promised to increase thesize of its own force to 6,000, from its current level of 2,500. Thissituation is showing all the signs of something that will get a lotworse for a long time. AFP and BBC

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