Food prices bring down import barriers

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The surge in world food prices is accomplishing what seven years of trade talks haven’t: knocking down import barriers.

The Doha round of global trade negotiations has been stalled since 2001 because developing nations have refused to lower import tariffs that protect their farmers and rich countries won’t give up farm-price supports. Now, import duties are being slashed from Brazil to Burkina Faso in response to prices that the World Bank says have risen 83% the past three years; subsidies in the US and Europe are falling.

”Food prices have done for import liberalization what Doha wouldn’t have been able to achieve for a very long time,” says Arvind Subramanian, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Maybe food prices will help Doha succeed and lock in such liberalization.

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