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Trade Travesty

May 19, 2011
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The opening up of trade barriers to the poorest countries in the world is one significant way that advanced industrial countries can promote international development. Sadly, according to the International Trade Commission Database, Kimberly Elliot at the Center for Global Development points out that the average US tariffs (tax) on imports from the UN-defined Least Developed Countries (LCD’s) is 13.1%, roughly four times larger than the average tariff on other countries in the world. This doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. Elliot goes on to point out this part of the report by the International Center for Trade and International Development on the fourth UN Conference on LCD’s in Instanbul

“Trade proved to be the most controversial issue of the negotiations…..The EU, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand (collectively dubbed CANZ) expressed support for giving LDCs unrestricted market access (as they already do for most products), and urged all countries to do so. Prior to the conference, there had been hopes that the US and Japan, both of which still maintain significant trade barriers on exports from many LDCs, would announce new concessions… [b]ut no such promises were made by the two industrialised countries during the talks in Istanbul.”

Things like this make you wonder why the US even bothers giving development aid.

Update: On the other hand, according to the neat-o CGD “Commitment to Development Index” the United States Ranks highly for its overall development trade policies, just behind Australia and New Zealand. Here is a description of the trade index

The trade component of the CDI penalizes countries for erecting barriers to imports of crops, clothing, and other goods from poor nations. It looks at two kinds of barriers: tariffs (taxes) on imports, and subsidies for domestic farmers, which stimulate overproduction and depress world prices. Such barriers deny people in poor countries jobs and income.

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