Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tragedy of the Day

. Thursday, February 25, 2010

From Easterly and Freschi:

Multiple critics have protested ever since the US government, hoping to force President Andry Rajoelina’s questionable government to hold elections, first threatened to remove preferential trading rights for Madagascar.

The Malagasy textile industry was a clear success story of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which removed US quotas and duties from thousands of products from eligible African countries. Madagascar’s exports tripled in the first three years of the program, and the textile sector, which made up 60 percent of Malagasy exports, accounted directly for 50,000 jobs and indirectly at least 100,000 more.

The US pulled the plug on AGOA at the end of December and import duties of up to 34 percent were reintroduced. ...

Among the effects we are NOT seeing: signs of increased interest in arriving at a power-sharing agreement or instating democratic governance on the part of Rajoelina’s government.

Ineffective sanctions, effective job destruction. An unaccountable branch of the US government hurts poor people far away who have no voice in US politics. Deeply saddened…we don’t know what more to say.


I wonder what pro-democracy/anti-trade "public citizens" think of this? A month ago they loved it, on the grounds that it would improve the state of Madagascar's democracy. So far that doesn't seem to be happening. Maybe it's too soon to tell, but I predicted this then, and issued a challenge playing off of Aid Watch's motto... all I ask is that democracy-promotion actually promote democracy.

Let's move beyond knee-jerk "trade = good/bad" ideology and get to facts: what are the reasonable odds that this policy is successful in promoting democracy in Madascar? Economic growth? Anything good? I think those odds are very slim, and so far the evidence bears that out. And if you don't get your Platonic ideal of unencumbered democracy, these sanctions are just needlessly impoverishing some of the world's poorest people.

Pardon me, but I don't see how advocating for horrible outcomes is acting like a responsible global citizen.


Tragedy of the Day
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