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Monday, July 31, 2006



NE: "It was the other way round: the slump made countries protectionist."

So, what else is new?

The reluctance of Europe to agree to deep and binding cuts (that will impact CAP payments to their farmers) is the very same troglodytic reasoning that prevailed in the twenties of the last century.

The memoirs of Bush and Chirac will one day show the distrust these two men harbor for one another, based upon ingrained macho pride - and which caused this present bust-up. With Bush it is the fact that he is due for a beating in the November elections and is thinking of the farming vote. For Chirac it is an irrational dislike for any change that could worsen the present plight of the French farmer - who's destiny is already consigned to further reduction in numbers over the coming years. The French rural community is small but locally vociferous. (When Chirac leaves Paris inevitably, he will return to the rural community from whence he issued.)

Such stubbornness on the part of these leaders accounts for the larger part of the failure thus far of the Doah Round. Does it mean the end to an enlightened consideration of the plight of the farming poor in the third world?

Not likely and not forever. Chirac will be gone next year and Bush the year after. Patience, whilst we wait for the Neanderthals to exit stage center. By then, if Europe's economy repairs then rural exodus can be absorbed by new job creation - thereby reducing do-nothing political pressures as regards agriculture.

The problem with economic cycles is that both on the downside and upside, they feed on themselves. It is the nature of the beast.

(And, frankly, lets understand that the UK no longer has this problem, having made the effort to migrate to the Information Age more than a decade ago. Don't forget that the rest of Europe is behind and not ahead of you in the matter of agricultural reform.)

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