Pacific-Asia and the Future of the World-System

By Ravi Arvind Palat | Go to book overview

the contingency of national farm sectors is revealed, notably in the restructuring of family farm systems on the Pacific Rim.


NOTES

I wish to thank Chul-Kyoo Kim, Research Assistant, Cornell University, for his assistance in the preparation of this paper, as well as Larry Burmeister and Harriet Friedmann who commented constructively on the draft. I also acknowledge the financial assistance of Hatch Grant #6404 undertaken at the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

1.
Rivalry is relative, as countries like Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, and even China constitute alternative supply zones for certain agricultural commodities. However, none match the sheer volume of exports of the United States, and its ability to influence world market prices and to protect its farm sector (c.f., Charvet, 1990: 179).
2.
The Economist has suggested that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) "has a fundamentally mercantilist character. It embodies the idea that domestic producers have a prior claim to domestic markets, that exports are "good" and imports "bad," and that unilateral protection creates national economic advantage. . . . In the 1990s [if America pursues the route of "fair trade" on its own terms--that is, exercising its muscle with super-301, threatening higher U.S. trade barriers] the interests of exporters will no longer be aligned with the true national interest--which is to lower barriers to imports. Instead, they will be aligned with demands for higher barriers, as a way of putting pressure on foreigners" ( December 15, 1990: 16).
3.
It is worth noting that a precondition of this goal, as a serious goal, would be a restructuring of U.S. agriculture away from low-value bulk foods and raw materials, toward high-value products, which have become the locus of growth (and more stable markets) in world agricultural trade since 1980, accounting for the first time for more than 50 percent of the total value of world agricultural trade ( Hillman & Rothenberg, 1988: 63).
4.
Japanese rice producer prices exceed world prices by eight to ten times, and consumer prices are only slightly lower because of an expensive subsidy ( Hathaway 1987: 29).
5.
However, Chikara Higashi and G. Peter Lauter have written: "the impact of agricultural exports on the bilateral trade imbalances is minimal. In 1986, for instance, a study of the congressional research service of the Library of Congress concluded that the elimination of all Japanese agricultural import restraints could increase American sales by approximately $1 billion, but this would decrease the overall bilateral trade deficit by only 2 percent" ( 1987: 126).
6.
In 1967, Western Wheat Associates arrived in Korea to spearhead an eat-wheat campaign, supported by agribusiness companies, encouraging a dietary shift to lunch-rolls and sandwiches. In 1972, the first automatic biscuit and cracker equipment was installed in three plants, and by 1979, more than 21,000 housewives in more than 100 cities attended special sandwich-making classes. In 1975, over 7,000 bakeries had appeared, and in 1978, Korea joined the "billion dollar club" of purchasers of imported farm goods from the United States ( Wessel, 1983: 173).
7.
The report said: " Japan is now by far our largest single customer; its imports of more than $1.2 billion in 1970 were two-and-one-half times those of a decade earlier. On the other hand, our market growth in Europe was less favourable. . . . The Commission recommends that the United States should immediately and vigorously assert its agricultural interests in bilateral discussion at the highest political level. . . . As Japanese products

-115-

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