Doha Round Stalled Again

Disagreements over farm subsidies have caused the current round of WTO negotiations to collapse.  Developing countries are upset that subsidized farmers from rich countries are hard to compete against in the world market.

India’s proposed solution is to trigger a raise in their own farm subsidies if imports rise above a certain level. Other countries found this unacceptable, hence the current impasse.

Rather than fret about unfair competition, developing countries could just sit back and welcome imports from subsidized farmers. Consider it a gift from U.S. and EU taxpayers.

Or better yet, all nations rich and poor could drop their market-distorting subsidies altogether. In the long run, the way to freer trade — and fuller stomachs — is fewer subsidies, not more. All that’s in the way is political inertia.

Unfortunately, in politics as well as in physics, inertia always wins.