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Views from the Center

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Philippines' Aggressive Rice Purchases Could Spark Another Crisis

I wrote in a CGD Note last week with Tom Slayton about how the Philippines are engaging in aggressive buying techniques that seem designed to drive up prices, raising the specter of another rice price crisis such as what befell us in early 2008. When more than 3 billion people—more than half of whom are very poor—depend on rice for their daily diet, a repeat of 2008 would put many in danger.

Do We Need a "Crisis Round" of Trade Talks? (Or Just Faster Dispute Settlement?)

Would a “Crisis Round” of trade talks launched at the London Summit next week be a useful mechanism for averting a further beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism? My colleague Arvind Subramanian and his frequent co-author, World Bank economist Aaditya Mattoo, think so. They argued for such a move in an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal Asia earlier this week (A Crisis Calls for a Crisis Round):

Kudos to Tokyo and Washington on Rice Sales -- Et Tu, Thailand and India?

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader

Today in Tokyo, Japan's Vice Minister for Agriculture, Toshirou Shirasu, told reporters that Japan plans to export 200,000 tons of rice to the Philippines "as fast as possible." This confirmed sale comes on top of 50,000 tons of Japanese rice previously under discussion. Even the anticipation of these sales had done much to take the speculative steam out of over-heated global rice markets, as we reported towards the end of last week (see "Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet"), so with some sales now officially confirmed we can hope to see further easing of speculative pressures.

House Passes Farm Bill, Thumbs Its Nose at Poorest Trading Partners and WTO

For poor developing country farmers and their advocates, the farm bill that passed the House of Representatives on Friday could hardly be worse news. Dissatisfaction with existing farm legislation is widespread and, with commodity prices high, it seemed as though a real opportunity existed to both reform America's costly and inequitable farm policy and give the stalled Doha Round of trade negotiations a boost. But those hopes have been at least temporarily dashed.