La tiranía del Rey Algodón

A los estadounidenses les gusta pensar que si los países pobres no hacen más que abrir sus mercados, habrá prosperidad de manera natural. Lamentablemente, en lo que concierne a la agricultura, esto no es más que retórica. Estados Unidos habla sólo de la boca para afuera acerca de los principios del libre mercado, favoreciendo a los grupos de presión de Washington y a los contribuyentes de las campañas, que exigen exactamente lo opuesto. De hecho, son los propios subsidios agrícolas de EE.UU. lo que ha contribuido a acabar, al menos por ahora, con la así llamada Ronda Doha de desarrollo de negociaciones comerciales, que se suponía que iba a dar a los países pobres nuevas oportunidades de optimizar su crecimiento.

Los subsidios dañan a los agricultores de los países en desarrollo, porque generan una mayor producción y reducen los precios globales. La administración Bush, supuestamente comprometida con los libres mercados de todo el mundo, en realidad casi ha duplicado el nivel de los subsidios agrícolas en EE.UU.

El algodón es un caso ilustrativo del problema. Sin subsidios, no sería rentable para los estadounidenses el producirlo; con ellos, EE.UU. es el mayor exportador mundial de este producto. Cerca de 25.000 agricultores ricos del algodón de EE.UU. se dividen de $3 a $4 mil millones en subsidios, y la mayoría de este dinero termina en una pequeña fracción de destinatarios. La mayor oferta deprime los precios del algodón, afectando a cerca de 10 millones de agricultores sólo en el África subsahariana.

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