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A follow up post to the one below, also from the Food First blog.  A little long, but well worth it.

Africans Face Competing Visions of Agricultural Development at Critical Juncture
Posted May 20th, 2010 by rjonasse
By Richard Jonasse, Food First

Aid Collage

A contest of competing visions over the future of Agriculture is playing out across Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers’ organizations are lining up against an aid regime that threatens to swamp smallholders with purported “solutions” to which these farmers have not assented and do not desire.

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Just watched a great segment on Democracy Now!  Watch the full segment here:  WTO Chief Pascal Lamy:  Free Trade and Independence Help Promote Freedom, Human Rights and Civil Liberties.

Ten years ago this week, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Seattle, WA to shut down WTO ministerial meetings and prevent further negative impacts of the organization’s neoliberal trade agenda.  Protesters succeeded in the former, but not in the later.

Yesterday, the WTO convened again in Geneva, Switzerland for its seventh ministerial meeting and a new push at a global free trade treaty.  Investigate journalist Greg Palast went to Geneva to interview WTO Chief Pascal Lamay.

While Lamay insists that open trade and interdependence between nations promotes freedom, human rights, and civil liberties, Palast challenges this picture.

Recently, the EU and U.S. have secretly been using the WTO to demand that emerging economies open their borders to trade in things like financial services, derivatives and credit default swaps.  Why would developing countries want to open their economies to toxic assets of the West?  Because if they don’t (or if they do and change their mind in an effort to protect themselves in circumstances like the recent U.S. stock market crash), they can expect to face massive penalties.

For example, if Ecuador tried to bar U.S. banks, under WTO rules, the U.S. can retaliate by imposing tarriffs on every single Ecuadorian-produced banana, easily ruining the entire Ecuadorian economy.

Martin Kohr, Executive Director of the South Centre–“defender of 51 banana exporting and other poor nations”–claims it’s time for the U.S. to learn a few lessons itself, lay off the developing countries, and fix its own domestic financial markets before trying to force replication of a “dysfunctional” model on the rest of the world.

Hope you’ll watch the full segment!

If you are at all interested in finance for development, check this out.

Post courtesy

Statement of the WOMEN’S WORKING GROUP ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT * for the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, September 2009

The current G20 meeting in Pittsburgh takes place a year after the outbreak of the worst financial crisis in recent history. That moment left us astonished as we watched powerful governments and the International Financial Institutions scramble to plug a hemorrhaging financial bubble burst in the system of the global market but the crisis quickly spread as a global contagion and soon entire economies were placed at risk. Everywhere the crisis led to destabilizing impacts on the real economy threatening the livelihoods of men and women.

WE believe that G20 leaders’ declarations have committed three essential mistakes: First, the declarations fail to diagnose the crisis as a symptom of something deeper: the unsustainability of an economic and financial system based on profit; the over concentration of capital, overproduction, rampant speculation; and the reckless consumerism that is guided by free market principles. The decoupling of the real economy and financial markets was accompanied by yet another fundamental artificial separation: the productive economy and the sphere of social reproduction.

From a gender perspective, it is also necessary to consider that the aggregate contribution of female labor in the productive economy is concentrated differently than that of male labor. This implies that the impacts of the crisis on women will vary according to sectors of the economy and work conditions. In general, female labor is more vulnerable than male labor with a highest concentration in the informal sector. Therefore, the trend is that women also suffer the most in the productive economy during a crisis. However, the G20 has not approached or attempted to provide answers to any of these elements and analysis of the gendered aspects of the crisis.

Second, the G20 statements presented some of the same elements that caused the crisis as a solution to it.

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