The Mirage of Development Through Trade

January 3, 2005
Source
IPS - Inter Press Service

By Frederic Mousseau and Anuradha Mittal

A new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concludes that the last 40 years of international trade in agriculture have not benefited the developing countries, above all the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), write Frederic Mousseau, Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute and internationally-renowned food security consultant, and Anuradha Mittal, the founder and director of the Oakland Institute.

In this analysis, the authors write that according to the report, trade actually marginalises the poorest countries and their small farmers and mainly benefits large-scale producers and corporations from developed countries. In the last few decades, transnational corporations have increased control over production and trade in developing countries.

While it denounces market distortions caused by developed countries, the report does not question the policies that harm agriculture in the developing countries and undermine the livelihoods of their farmers. Instead it recommends measures to make developing countries and their farmers more competitive in an open global economy, suggesting that the trade and market liberalisation are the only chances that poorest nations have to get out of poverty. The authors argue for the adoption of food sovereignty as a national policy for developing countries, including the right to protect their production and markets from an inequitable system.