The Acts of the Democracies




USA Trade Barriers

The USA imposes trade tariffs on steel from Europe and increases farm subsidies by $70,000 million. Both acts are in breach of trade rules set up by the USA.

The USA had been criticising the farming subsidies of the European Union as well as putting pressure for more open markets to USA goods. The European Union commissioner for agriculture complains: "We cannot negotiate on the basis of 'Do as I say, not as I do'."

Between 1945 and 2002, there have been 116 cases of economic sanctions against countries. 80% of these have been initiated by the USA alone, often against the wishes of the international community and the trade agreements that the USA has signed. The United Nations estimates that more than 50% of the world's population is subject to unilateral coercive sanctions by the USA. These sanctions "were not authorised by the relevant organs of the UN".

The USA threatens trade sanctions against 27 countries that produce cheap medicines for diseases like AIDS for their own people. This is a violation of the Doha Declaration which allows countries to put the health of their people before compliance with patent rules. According to Oxfam, "unduly restrictive patent protection raises prices and therefore reduces access for poor people".

The farming subsidies in Europe total over $40,000 million. The subsidies favour large farms using fertilisers and pesticides, raise food prices in Europe by 44% and cause poverty in poorer countries by making local produce more expensive than European produce.

The European Union and the USA thus spend billions of dollars of tax payers' money each year subsidising their farmers and protecting them from more efficient producers in the poorer countries. The surplus cheap produce is then exported to developing countries, wiping out local farmers' livelihoods.

The European Union and (to a lesser extent) the USA protect their own markets while preaching free trade to poorer countries. As Oxfam puts it: "Governments of rich countries constantly stress their commitment to poverty reduction. Yet the same governments use their trade policy to conduct what amounts to robbery against the world's poor. Rich countries are fierce advocates of liberalisation in developing countries, while retaining high trade barriers against exports from the same countries."

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