Sunday, May 13, 2007

Free Trade is good for Lebanon

"USAID's director dismisses claims that Lebanon's industries overall are still too fragile to be exposed to free trade. "My experience with the Lebanese [is that] they don't need any time," he argues, insisting that the Lebanese are entrepreneurs. "If they see an opportunity they jump for it."

At first Youssef denies that the spread of capital-intensive, large-scale farming that is capable of producing the export-orientated agricultural products favoured by FTAs will result in smallholder farmers being forced off the land as has occurred elsewhere, notably in many Latin American countries.

"I don't see this happening in Lebanon, you have a shortage of labour," he argues. Youssef adds that Lebanon is a small hilly country and so there is no "mass of land which is really going to be mechanised overnight."

When pushed, he conceded that smallholder farmers must eventually give way to larger farms because "that's a free market concept. It's a free economy, demand and supply. These guys can be skilled, they can go some place else and work. Or maybe they can retune their skills and adopt a new technology to be useful in some other areas.""

Super article by Yasmine Ryan (her again!) on Lebanon's farmers and Free Trade Agreements. Read it. It is really good.

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