There's No Such Thing as a Free Trade


“The fact that Africa constitutes or has only a very, very tiny share of global trade has to do with the fact that you have to have products to sell that are competitive,” said Florie Liser, assistant U.S. trade representative for Africa. “They have been selling things that are at the bottom of the value chain.”

Non-fuel AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) imports to the U.S. increased 18% last year, driven mostly by chemicals, minerals, metals and agriculture, according to the Commerce Department. Meanwhile, U.S. textile and apparel imports from sub-Saharan Africa — which includes countries such as Botswana, Chad and Kenya — dropped by 20% last year. Imports of machinery-related products dropped by 44%.

“You cannot export cotton from Africa to the United States,” said Mark Neuman, a global trade policy adviser for the retail industry. It takes about 10 cents to produce a pound of cotton in Africa versus more that [sic] $1 in the U.S., Neuman said, but “hidden” subsidies block market access for AGOA countries.

“There is no arbitrage because the American market is closed,” Neuman said.

What cotton subsidies, I hear you asking. The ones the WTO bitchslapped the U.S. for (August, 2009):

American goods will face an estimated $300 million in annual sanctions as a result of the United States' failure to eliminate illegal subsidies to U.S. cotton growers, the World Trade Organization ruled Monday.

The result was disappointing for Brazil, which has won a series of rulings against the United States over the past seven years. Brazil had sought to target American goods and drug patents for $2.5 billion worth of economic retaliation.

The WTO ruled that the sanctions should vary depending on U.S. payments each year. Arbitrators used 2006 as a base year for the ruling and said U.S. payments would have to increase significantly for Brazil to be allowed to punish American drug patents.

Washington had argued that the award should not exceed $30 million. "While we remain disappointed with the outcome of this dispute, we are pleased that the arbitrators awarded Brazil far below the amount of countermeasures it asked for," said Carol Guthrie, spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

If the United States is looking at ways to cut costs, how about knocking off some of this subsidy nonsense? We could both save money on the cut the producers are getting from the gubmint and on these sanctions.

Related earlier nonsense: Can a Republican House Stop Farm Subsidy Nonsense? Yeah Right

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.