A Wall Street Journal article about U.S. rice exports to the African nation of Ghana is an example of the challenges in addressing the complexity of international trade policy. Readers would have a distorted view of U.S. rice policy and trade and if the only information they had was from the article.

The article How Trade Barriers Keep Africans Adrift Wests Farm Subsidies Drive Ghanaians Out of Rice Market, Fueling Poverty and Migration by Juliane von Reppert-Bismark appeared in the December 27, 2006 यू.एस. संस्करण. The story line is typical of trade stories in the popular press people in poor rural areas of developing countries are being forced to leave for big cities due to cheap subsidized food from the U.S. because governments run strict open-market regimes advocated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, with no payments to farmers and limited import tariffs.

Ghana is a West African country on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea with a population of 22 दस लाख. It has an area of 92,000 वर्ग मील, slightly smaller that the state of Oregon. के बारे में 17.5 percent of the land is arable with another 9.2 percent in permanent crops. केवल 77,000 acres are irrigated. Per capita GDP in 2005 on a purchasing power parity basis was $2500, about twice the level of poorer countries in West Africa. Agriculture accounts for about 35 percent of GDP and 60 percent of employment. The government began pursuing market reforms in the mid-1980s and is the most market-oriented country in West Africa, with economic growth of 5-6 प्रति वर्ष प्रतिशत. The country promotes itself as the Gateway to West Africa.

अमेरिका. Agricultural Attach in Ghana in a May 3, 2006 report states, The Ghana tariff system has four ad valorem import duty rates (0, 5, 10 तथा 20%), which became effective in January 2000. The standard rate of duty is 20% (for example rice and poultry). Compared to many developing countries the Ghanaian tariff on food is low, but compared to the average U.S. agricultural tariff of 12.5 percent it is high. Keep in mind that an import tariff is a tax on consumers. A value added tax (VAT) का 12.5% on the duty-inclusive value of all imports is also levied, but raw foodstuffs are exempted from the VAT. Policy analysts can argue that a 20 percent tariff on rice is too high or low, but it certainly does not fit the label of strict open market.

अमेरिका. produces about 2 percent of the worlds rice and accounts for 11 दुनिया के निर्यात का प्रतिशत, down from a 20 percent market share in the early 1990s and 25 में प्रतिशत 1980 तथा 1981. The largest exporters as a percent of world trade are Thailand with 29 प्रतिशत, वियतनाम 17 प्रतिशत, भारत 15 प्रतिशत, यू.एस. 11 percent and Pakistan 10 प्रतिशत.
The Economic Research Service of USDA released a Rice Backgrounder in December of last year that explained the U.S. position in the overall sub-Saharan Africa market, The United States is not price competitive in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asian exporters supply most of the regions rice imports. यू.एस. commercial sales in the global market are almost exclusively high-quality rice, while Sub-Saharan Africa purchases mostly low- or medium-quality rice. हाल के वर्षों में, the South American exportersUruguay, अर्जेंटीना, and Brazilhave shipped rice to Sub-Saharan Africa, with low-priced brokens accounting for a large share of the shipments. The backgrounder further explains that the U.S. has been losing market share in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. अमेरिका. Agricultural Attach in Ghana estimates that the U.S. provides about one third of the imported rice.

The Wall Street Journal article repeats the well-worn statement that U.S. rice farmers received $780 million in subsidies in 2006, but that is not the relevant number for trade policy concerns. The more critical issue is the amount of subsidies that the World Trade Organization (विश्व व्यापार संगठन) considers as the most trade distorting the marketing loan program. According to the ERS Rice Backgrounder, Total payments under the marketing loan program have declined each year since 2002 due to rising world prices. मई में 2006, the adjusted world price exceeded the loan rate for all three classes of rice, making U.S. producers ineligible for marketing loan benefits.

The article portrays farmers in Africa as the victims of policies of the U.S., the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These types of stories are damaging in a public policy context because they divert attention away from real policy issues. About three-fourths of the way through the article a key issue is raised, According to the Ghana Rice Interprofessional Body, the countrys three-ton-per-hectare (2.47 एकड़ जमीन) yield is half what it could be. If yields were twice as large, Ghanaian farmers could provide low cost food for consumers and compete with Asian, South American and U.S. चावल.

This has been recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (एफएओ) of the UN. Their website has a list of constraints and issues for sustainable rice production in Ghana, समेत: drought in upland areas and flash floods in rainfed lowlands (केवल 10 percent of Ghanas rice land is irrigated), lack of suitable varieties, inadequate and irregular supplies of seeds, fertilizers and credit, poor road networks and marketing systems and weak research. अमेरिका. Agricultural Attach in Ghana reported a similar list. Ghanas agriculture lacks adequate infrastructure, has underdeveloped credit facilities and has difficulties in land tenure arrangements. This same list would apply to many countries in Africa with agricultural productivity problems.

Its easier to frame Ghanaian farmers as victims rather than address public policies that strengthen their ability to increase productivity. While WTO trade policy reforms that reduce trade distorting subsidies are needed, they will do little to improve the competitiveness of Ghanas rice farmers.