Shamed to be European

These days I’m almost beginning to feel ashamed for being European.

The currently on-going WTO talks in Hong Kong were doomed to fail before they even began. Reason for the failure of this phase of the Doha round is the European Union and its stubborn refusal to cut agricultural subsidies. Perhaps most notably it’s France that is to blame for this fiasco, but in fact all the EU countries are pulling the same stupid rope, Finland included. It’s perhaps a little ironic that talks held in Hong Kong, which is in the front row of trade liberalization itself, will mark such an accomplishment in refusal to liberalize.

Anyway, issues like these make me sometimes wonder if it is so wise to be part of this union, along with moronic member states such as France, Spain and Italy. If we were alone, we could make better policies, unilaterally decide to abolish trade barriers, and simply not care if our strawberries are of certain size or how many wolves must roam our backyards. There are some groups in Finland that have opposed the EU membership since day one (and even before that actually), but then again, if we’d let those people get their way, we’d probably head in even worse direction than the EU is doing. Then I’d probably have to be ashamed because of my nationality…

On the other hand, I wouldn’t feel too proud for being from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America or some other area in which countries rely heavily on protectionism either. Some of those countries are even worse than the EU, they blatantly refuse to even talk about lowering their own trade barriers because we won’t cut ours. It’s almost like mercantilism never died! The poorest countries in the world raise their trade barriers on average three to four times as high as we do here in the prosperous West. In India some import tariffs are even way over four hundred per cent! It’s like forcing people to have to either buy expensive goods or no goods at all instead of buying cheap goods would make them more prosperous, what the… I’d be really ashamed if I were from one of those countries and didn’t move out already.

Well, here I am, mocking people for being born in wrong places. It’s not something they could have influenced by themselves, so what’s my problem, some might wonder. No, no one can choose their place of birth. But they can try to influence it while they are there. Ultimately it’s the fault of the local government that a country and its people are poor. If they chose to, they could experience similar economic growth that Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and others have experienced in recent years, or what for example Finland and Sweden experienced during the 20th century.

In fact, the Korean Peninsula is a perfect example. Before the Korean War the north and south were roughly similar. After the war the two countries headed into wildly different directions, and we can all see the results today. South Korean farmers protest in Hong Kong against cutting agricultural subsidies (which means they’re quite prosperous at the moment) while North Korean farmers starve in their self-isolated puny country. In which country would you prefer to live?

Actually, it’s rather nice up here north. If just those Frenchies would come to their senses…

5 thoughts on “Shamed to be European”

  1. // I’d be really ashamed if I were from one of those countries and didn’t move out already //

    I am from India and presenty living in Finland, but not for good. I am going to write a post about your this analysis of import tariff being 400% and I hope then you will get to know which country does it better.

    If only Ricardian Economics was followed, there would not be any dispute.

    I hope you visit my post, should be up by tomorrow.

  2. Unfortunately I can’t locate the source for that over 400% import tariff claim at the moment. Please note, however, that I said that “In India some import tariffs…”. If I remember correctly, that rate concerned only few imports, but alas, can’t remember what they were.

    Anyway, James Glassman writes in TCS that agricultural import tariffs in India are 101% on average. This leads me to believe that those 400%+ imports weere agricultural imports as well.

    European agricultural export subsidies have lesser impact in international trade than import tariffs of that magnitude, despite the fact that they shouldn’t exist either.

  3. I am also not sure, some duty might be 400%, but the question is why are these import restrictions ?

    I don’t agree with James Glassman, he has given few statements without explaining the rationale.
    //But out of the $142 billion gain to poor countries, the gain that comes from removing trade barriers in rich countries is only $31 billion. The gain to poor countries that comes from removing their own barriers is $111 billion — nearly four times as great.//

    How ?

    Anyway I have put my post now, you can take a look.

    I have put a link to your blog, if you any objection please tell me, I will take the link off.


  4. Heather, I’m fine, thanks. 🙂 Long time no see… And you’ve got your own domain too, nice! Gotta read that blog some day after work. If you still use msn we might catch up some day. 🙂

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