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Le Rouge et le Blanc

Agriculture: Trade Wars and Food Wars. Obama and the Multi-Nationals (James Petras)

22 Septembre 2016 , Rédigé par POC

The concentration and centralization of the agro-business multi-nationals advances with gigantic strides: Potash Corp and Agrium have combined into a $30 billion monopoly over the world fertilizer market. Dow Chemical and DuPont combine in a $130 billion dollar deal in the seed and agricultural chemicals sector.

Conclusion

US multi-national agro-business mergers have upped the ante in provoking social upheavals, North and South. While the agro-business elite expands overseas and increases domestic profits, it does so by heightening class and national conflicts, which, in turn, provoke brutal state repression.

The alliance between agro-business and militarism is a major factor driving the global ascent of populism and nationalism, as well as Islamist radicalism.

The ‘war versus trade’ contradiction dividing the US business elite has created a disjointed political class spinning in both directions without coherence.

The electorate reacts with double negatives: hostile to their own leaders and hostile to any alternatives. The response may well be greater abstention and withdrawal by the voters.

The US and EU multi-nationals, pivoting toward greater concentration of wealth and mega-monopolies, have yet to undermine the nature of Chinese state power - the ultimate arbiter of agriculture in Asia. As Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Myanmar develop closer trade and diplomatic ties with China, the MNCs have to deal with new competition and challenges from non-multi-national adversaries.

Besides Japan, and possibly South Korea, the US trade war against China has few regional allies. Obama’s militarist ‘pivot’ resonates with few outside of the US presidential election rhetoric.

In the European Union, nationalist populist movements and governments are questioning Obama’s proposed ‘Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ (TTIP), particularly in regard to its impact on European agriculture. As the costs of food production and consumer prices increase the US-sponsored TTIP loses its supporters, because Washington’s conservative allies in Europe need the vote of small-scale farmers and middle class consumers in France, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere.

In India, the huge multinational agribusiness mergers are playing havoc with the political leaders in the BJP as they face scores of millions of devastated peasant producers.

In other words, mega-agro powers form a two-edged sword in world capitalism: They strengthen the economies of the imperial powers while undermining their own electoral mass base. The feeble efforts to regulate these mergers have failed, as expected. When the ‘free market’ pulverizes small producers and local suppliers, it creates the conditions for class wars on many fronts, in the West and in the East, in the US and the EU, in China and in India.

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Lisez l'article complet ici: http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=2101

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