ME and Ophelia

Thursday, June 17, 2004

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Abolish the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Extracts from "Why the waiting must end for Africa" by Fraser Nelson Scotsman June 16, 2004:

"When government gives taxpayers’ cash to dictators, it invariably goes astray. History has repeatedly shown there is only one sure-fire answer to these problems: trade.

This is the rope which the people of China and India are using to pulling themselves out of poverty - yet this rope is denied to Africa by the European Union.

The solution staring European leaders in the face for years has been to abolish the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which has become a new Iron Curtain, cutting African farmers off from rich markets.

The CAP slaps tariffs on food which Africa could sell to the EU - denying its farming industry the chance to grow, and denying millions the chance to earn a living. Not content with this, the CAP dumps subsidised European surplus in Africa, undermining local markets.

The CAP is supposed to protect farming jobs in Britain and keep incomes high - an objective which, as any Scottish farmer will confirm, is by no means an outright success. The CAP is a big part of reason why Africa remains so poor.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has shown that the policy to help European farmers denies Africa £400 billion in lost export income each year. This is a staggering 14 times all the amount of aid by every country in the world.

The United States is equally as guilty of farm subsidies. It has been calculated that world protectionism costs about £1 billion a year - enough not just to feed the world’s 60 million cows, but fly them business class around the world and give them £2,000 spending money at each stop.

The answer to Africa is staring us in the face - and it doesn’t take a commission or a five-year plan to work it out. To treat the scar on the world’s conscience which is Africa, abolish the CAP.

But this is politically unacceptable across Europe - so instead, leaders talk about international aid. By 2010. Or later. They promise, Africa starves, the cows absorb subsidy, we pay too much for food - and all for the sake of farmers who are struggling anyway.

Whoever breaks this cycle of misery can lay genuine claim to helping Africa. Perhaps Mr Blair will be the one who pulls the sword from this stone."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/17/2004
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