NEW DELHI – The collapse of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations at Geneva has left Indian analysts with mixed feelings. One view is that no deal is better than a bad one. The other is that because the alternative for developing countries is far worse, India should have been more flexible.
The United States blamed India and China for being ‘overly protective’ in opening their doors to a wide range of imports [emphasis added] — from food products to chemicals and automobiles. Many countries from the developing world, on the other hand, argued that farm subsidies in the U.S. and Europe were squeezing their own farmers out of the market, thereby reducing local food production and leaving their countries vulnerable to sudden spikes in food prices, as happened in recent months.China’s representative at the WTO said that what the U.S. was demanding from developing countries was ‘a price as high as heaven’. India’s Commerce Minister Kamal Nath stated that the U.S. wanted to enhance the commercial interests of its large agri-business corporations whereas developing countries like India wanted to ensure that the ‘livelihood of its farmers’ are protected.
It seems India and China know more about the history of economic developement than we do. Which is typical.
In terms of social relations it is common that the victim or the disadvantaged or those whose necks are being stepped on by the boots of others know more about their oppressors than the oppressors know about themselves.
Ask any woman and she can tell you more about men than us men know about our own gender.
Ask any oppresed racial or ethnic minority and they can tell you more about the the "superior" than the latter knows about themselves.
During the famine in China the leaders were oblivious to what was going on but those being starved understood perfectly well.
And developing countries know more about how the developed world has developed than we know.
Furthermore, we approach our own economic history with rhetoric and ideology. We treat our self-imposed myths like a religion: faith-based economics.
The developing world is rightly dismissing our attempts to impose trade agreements that are largely one-sided. When we condemn them for being "overly protective" it takes a serious case of amnesia to not note the hypocrisy.
Our economic developement in the U.S. was due to even more extensive protectionism than anything India and China are currently guilty of. We used slavery, poor labor laws, extensive amounts of subsidies (we still do through corporate farms and the Pentagon), high tariffs and extreme amounts of control on foreign investment.
The WTO talks consisted of nothing more than "Do as we say and not as we did."