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Bad for Africa?

Although many sub-Saharan Africans have been feeling euphoric about our electing a half-Kenyan, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that their hopes may soon be dashed upon the rocks of political expediency:

[I]f there’s one issue that Obama will be judged on in Africa, it’s international fair trade: whether he will usher in a breakthrough or, as some fear, stifle it. Will he continue to support subsidies that protect American farmers, but hurt poor Africans?

[Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential,] said Western subsidies and tariffs are “ruinous” for Africa, condemning it to poverty. Aid programs “aren’t really aid packages at all; they’re just compensation for a very unfair trade system.”

But when Smith asked Obama’s foreign policy advisors about the issue at a recent meeting, they said it was not on the preelection agenda.

“I said, ‘You mean it’s too unpopular?’ ” Smith recalled. “They just laughed. They would not even talk about it.

“I think the moral argument is to get rid of these subsidies. But he’s going to have a hard job to dump subsidies in the middle of a recession.”

By contrast, the article notes, McCain’s platform included opposition to those very subsidies.


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