- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

Reaping a bitter harvest

The Tuesday editorial "A bitter harvest" called upon the United States and the European Union to reach common ground on agricultural trade reforms and keep the promise made to developing countries. Developing countries also must do their part to hold the United States' and Europe's feet to the fire.
While developed countries objected to the paper written by World Trade Organization (WTO) chief of staff Stuart Harbinson, many developing countries said they were pleased because it incorporated many of their proposals for a "Development Box."
However, many of these ideas would delay the integration of developing countries into the global economy. Worse, there is a real risk that these proposals will be the consolation prize in exchange for genuine agricultural trade reforms by the developed countries.
That would be tragic. Agricultural trade distortions inflict huge costs on developing countries, importers and exporters alike. They inflict particular harm on farmers, who often are the poorest people in developing countries. Trade distortions and biased agricultural policies make it impossible for these farmers to escape poverty and hunger. Many countries are net food importers because trade distortions don't give them a chance to produce their own food.
Developing countries' interests, whether those of exporters or importers, are best served by significant improvements in market access, significant reductions in subsidized export competition and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support for all products and for all countries. However, as the reactions to the Harbinson proposal demonstrate, the developed countries will not get there by themselves.
Even though some developed countries are more ambitious than others, every country has its sacred cows. Without pressure from developing countries, it would be easy to envision a deal among developed countries that exempted rice, sugar, dairy and cotton. It would be easy to envision a deal that left state trading entities and export credits intact. It would be easy to envision a deal that kept the loopholes that have allowed some countries to increase trade-distorting domestic subsidies.
The round of trade talks in Doha, Qatar, will determine the global agricultural trading environment for the next 21 years or more. Developing countries cannot afford to squander this opportunity. They must keep their eyes on first prize: substantial reductions in tariffs on all products for all countries; substantial reductions in subsidized export competition in all forms; substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support on all products for all countries.
Developing countries hold the majority in the WTO. They were effective in Doha in pushing for an ambitious development agenda. Unless they continue to hold developed countries' feet to the fire, however, they risk getting a consolation prize of exemptions and exceptions they want, instead of a first prize of ambitious agricultural trade reforms they need.

International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council

Paying for illegal aliens

We have been told for many years by the left that illegal aliens (or so-called undocumented workers) should not be discriminated against and that they are a net plus to the economy because the benefits they bring to the economy far outweigh the costs of having them here.
Certainly, they have been a net plus to anyone who is unwilling to pay a living wage: New York yuppie mothers who need cheap nannies, Wall Street lawyers who need cheap housekeepers and Californians who need cheap yard boys.
Now, however, the bills are coming due. The social costs to New York, California, Texas and Arizona are extremely high and climbing ("Senators seek funds for aliens' medical care," Nation, Wednesday). Hospitals are shutting down and cutting back services because of the high costs of taking care of undocumented workers who apparently are not beingpaid enough to buy their own insurance.
The solution seems clear tome. Given the tremendous benefits they bring to certain states, raise those states' taxes. Because New York, California, Texas and Arizona (the loudest complainers) have received the direct benefits of undocumented workers to their cities and counties, they are in a much better position to pay the costs, right?
After all, because undocumented workers are a net plus and the benefits they bring to those states far outweigh their cost, those states will still be better off … won't they?

Memphis, Tenn.

Is there any reason why the government of Mexico couldn't be billed for the cost of medical treatment for its aliens? Why should the U.S. taxpayer have to pay for it, especially when we can't even provide adequate medical coverage for our own veterans? This should become a condition for keeping our borders porous in order to relieve the population pressure in Mexico.

Aurora, Colo.

New diplomacy for a new era

Harlan Ullman's column "A clash of cultures" (Op-Ed, Wednesday) features the growing anti-Americanism among some of our closest friends and allies. However, care must be taken by the Bush administration and the press not to misread this development.
While there is genuine international trepidation over the possibility of war in Iraq and a good measure of concern that the United States has exceeded its role as the remaining superpower, a more fundamental cause of this seeming disrespect for America is the very growth of democracy we have advocated for so long.
Now is not the time to wax nostalgic about the disappearance of the simpler days when we might make arrangements with authoritarian governments to keep stability in a nation or region. A new requirement is to deal with less organized, emergent democracies using tools that address a larger spectrum of the polity than ever before. South Korea and Turkey are but two countries that have been in the news recently that fit this bill, but to varying extents, the principle is the same for India, Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and others. The electorates of surging, emerging democracies are beginning to flex their new powers, and this has led to greater complexity for U.S. policy-makers.
On another note, the federal government's efforts at "public diplomacy" have foundered on a mistaken assumption: namely, that America's popularity abroad is due to the effective communication of our message alone. In fact, we do not need greater attention of others to our thoughts we need greater attention among people at home, listening to foreign ideas and concerns. Above all, we must adjust our approach to give credence to differing opinions and respect those who may not share all our thoughts and conclusions. We must be able to listen before we speak.
Fundamental to this is a required modicum of trust that others can be responsible for their own security, as well as be understanding and respectful of our own security needs. Traditional diplomacy, based on negotiations by small groups of supposedly wise men trusted to maneuver the ship of state without those in steerage understanding the process or defining the direction, is passe.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration continues to slip backward in the effort to broaden and improve contacts with other countries. The earlier structure of America's international policy was effectively dismantled after the Cold War, and there is still no serious effort to build a vigorous replacement. We ignore the problem at our peril and in contradiction to the fundamental principles of what is American. With a real commitment to genuine and respectful communication, "anti-Americanism" soon will disappear as a cause for concern.

Senior vice president
Jefferson Waterman International

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