为自由贸易而死

对自由贸易而言,去年是糟糕的一年。多哈回合本应该将农业作为谈判的中心议题以缓和发展中国家深深的挫败感。然而,富国的农业保护主义非但没有为食品的自由贸易注入新的活力,反而似乎已经扼杀了多哈回合—并可能也葬送了多边贸易体系。

农业从来就是自由贸易原则及其赋权于穷国的承诺所面临的最大挑战,因为它是全球贸易中最为扭曲的领域之一。在2004年,经合组织国家在支持国内农民方面的开支是其官方发展援助预算的四倍还多。在2000年,世界银行估计经合组织的农业保护主义使发展中世界当年付出了200亿美金的福利损失代价。最令人不平的是,农业对于这些“富人俱乐部”经济体而言是一个衰退中的、小的经济部门。这些国家越富裕、经济规模越大,农业也就越式微,而浪费在农业福利方面的资源也就越多。

现实的挑战来自于农业的两个优势。它们将农业部门与全球市场的力量隔绝,将即便最世故和开明的政客转变成其捍卫者。首先,农业是地理集中的,而农民首先是冲着农业政策投票,这也极大地增加了他们投票的权重—而这一点在城市消费者身上几乎体现不出来。

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