Friday, April 07, 2006

How the World Works

How the World Works
Salon, publication date: 06 April 2006
"Let's set aside the question of whether the manufacturing industry in the United States has really been destroyed (last I checked, the U.S. was still one of the world's great manufacturing powerhouses). And we'll concede that it's nice to hear that now Lehman is suddenly a supporter of international labor and environmental standards. But one can excuse developing nations for seeing affairs in a slightly different light. As part of the horse-trading of the Uruguay round that led to the creation of the WTO, writes Michigan State law professor Peter Yu, a researcher who has studied TRIPs extensively, the quid pro quo of TRIPs was that in exchange for receiving stronger protection for intellectual property rights, developed nations were supposed to substantially lower tariffs on textiles and agriculture. But while the developing nations were required to, as Yu notes, 'phase in product patents for pharmaceuticals on the first day' of the transitional period, developed nations were given as much as ten years to get rid of their quotas. And to this day, the United States and the European Union still subsidize their agricultural sectors to the tune of many billions of dollars annually."

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