OK. Here’s a little Christmas Quiz. Not hard, I promise
First, read this inspiring quote from our Great Helmsman as he rouses the unions with some hearty advice and a lovely big cheque for $180m of your money. He’s giving the money to them because… well, it’s a Great Australian Tradition to give big chunks of money to the motor vehicle industry when they ask for it and, after all, it’s only a tiny bit of the $6 billion prezzie he promised them a few weeks ago.
‘In the year ahead, there will be some very tough times,’ Mr Rudd said at the company announcement, flanked by thousands of auto-industry workers and their families. ‘It will be hard. There will be some cruel times. And we are in many respects in uncharted waters. But if we stick together and government continues to provide leadership in securing the nation’s future, then we will see Australia through.’ extract from: The Australian
Now, here’s the question: When the Prime Minister warns the boys at General Motors of ‘tough times’ ahead, do you think he means theirs or yours? (Hint: did you get $6 billion for Xmas?)
For bonus points: The Age newspaper says that it’s ‘substituting dogma for reality’ to criticize these subsidies because there’s every reason to think that they’ll put the industry back on it’s feet and we won’t be ‘locked-in’ to propping up General Motors. Question: Does The Age believe in the tooth-fairy? Or have they forgotten that we’ve been propping up this industry with direct subsidies, tax subsidies, high tariffs, concessional imports, import quotas and import bans since 1948?
“As we have argued before, governments need to look for other options such as smaller, more manageable standalone multilateral deals.” extract from: FT Editorial — The broken promise of Doha
A ‘smaller, stand-alone’ deal is almost certain to lead to a plurilateral agreement among a sub-set of WTO’s 153 members because it will probably not offer sufficient gain to all of them. But that’s OK in my view. It’s still a prospective way ahead.
Some environmentalists (and The Age newspaper) are predictably crying foul at Kevin Rudd’s relatively modest White Paper option of up to 25% or 35% cuts from the estimated business as usual level of Australian GHG emissions in 2020. Nevertheless, the proposed ETS conforms to the government’s threat to “reform and transform our economy” (Climate Minister, Penny Wong), by effectively choking it just when it is running out of puff
Speaking of unsustainable trends …
(Update: the Ministerial meeting will not take place)
Ahead of a likely attempt by WTO Minsiters to spy the promised land before the year is out In one last attempt to wrest consensus from growling discord, the (retiring) Chair of the WTO Agriculture Negotiations has released another version of his 120-page ‘modalities’ paper (.pdf, about 1mb) for the proposed Doha Round agreement on Agriculture. The Chair of the NAMA group has simultaneously released a new text on non-agricultural market access negotiations.
Predictably, the agriculture text contains new regressions—that is, new means of increasing, rather than ‘substantially reducing’ protection—that have been grafted to the proposals by an ugly sort of frankenstein surgery. Will the monster rise from the table at Ministers’ command? I hope not; I would prefer another route to the completion of Doha.
This is Ambassador Crawford Falconer’s last attempt to lead WTO members out of the wilderness. He has done his best with an impossible brief: to make an agreement among governments that don’t agree.
“Everything is conditional in the deepest sense in any case. But the changes made at this time now represent a best estimate of where there is additional good reason to believe there would prove to be consensus if everything was to come together as a modalities package.” (extract from Crawford Falconer’s press release)
A short list of the changes (I can’t call them highlights) I’ve noticed in the agriculture text follows