Snippets from Down Under
Foreign aid aquaculture: Aid or stumbling block?
Monday,20 September,2010 10:59:36
Foreign aid from developed countries can be a great initiative but I wonder if any government actually thinks through its policies as a whole and has a plan which they can explain.
Certainly foreign ministers love getting in the limelight travelling overseas and splashing out money on various schemes which they believe will assist developing countries, but has the whole thing been well and truly thought through and has a plan been documented to a degree that all interested parties are aware? I doubt it.
Here is a scenario: A large developed country considers itself the bastion of free trade and likes to think itself a leader in the free world. They decide to invest funds and assist their own researchers to help a developing country by bringing expertise and knowledge to an issue of building aquaculture systems. This becomes successful because the developing country does not have the red tape and levels of bureaucracy of the developed country, the people involved in the project are keen to succeed and have a strong work ethic, and lo and behold they start exporting.
They actually do a great job and produce a good quality product, highly saleable, for a relatively low price – certainly much lower than the developed country could ever do. The aid program can be tagged “successful” for having turned things around and created employment, export dollars, etc, etc.
But in the domestic market of the developed country there are aquaculture farmers of a similar product and they are struggling under the force of paying developed country prices for labor and feeds, are overburdened with red tape and bureaucracy and, all of sudden, these people cannot make a living.
These farmers believe because they are from a developed country that their product is a greater quality and is worth much more on the market place but alas, consumers do not perceive this. Oh yes , as a consumer I will tell you I will be loyal and buy local but my pocket is telling me other things and actually I really perceive the imported developing country’s product is a better value for my hard earned dollar!
The developed country farmers become angry. They do not go down the quality route and get a standard to demonstrate how good and consistent their products are but instead, go down the route of getting politicians, who are looking to make a name for themselves, to create havoc.
This they do by getting support to increase the tariffs and creating more ‘red tape’ at the borders – they are protecting the farmers that vote for them, that come from their area.
Everyone gets very excited and the whole system is like a dog chasing its tail.
The developing country thinks: these people came to help us and then when we were successful and able to produce a cheaper protein source which should be helping the whole world they cut us off at the pass by increasing the duties on our products and potentially create much more hardship on the developing country than before the whole project started. So what was the strategy? Did everyone in the government of the developed country understand the strategy? Sometimes being successful can be a negative.
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