November 7, 2003 -- CropChoice news --NY Times, 11/06/03:
Though seeking further support from the Bush administration
to help bolster his fragile government, Joseph Kabila,
the president of Congo, criticized the United States
this week for maintaining agricultural subsidies that
harm farmers in his country.
"Most definitely, most definitely," Mr. Kabila,
32, said in an interview on Thursday when asked if American
agriculture subsidies damage his country's farming sector.
"Most African nations depend on agriculture,"
he continued, growing animated. "They have to export
in order to earn foreign currency to buy medicines and
buy this and that."
"When there are these subsidies, what's the use
of exporting? They won't be able to export,'' he said.
"More or less, the local markets will be flooded.
So what's the use of the farmers even producing when
you can buy something from the U.S. cheaper at the local
The issue of the $300 billion in annual agricultural
subsidies handed out by governments in the developed
world has taken on growing importance among leaders
of developing countries, who complain that the aid is
harming their farmers. The fight over subsidies is blamed
for scuttling world trade talks in Cancún, Mexico,
Mr. Kabila's views on subsidies came in an interview
during his trip to Washington, where he met with President
Bush. In that meeting, Mr. Kabila received a promise
of continued American support for the peace agreement
that has brought an end to decades of war in Congo.
The Bush administration also said it would provide
humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, and assistance
for resettlement of refugees and stemming the spread
of AIDS, though the dollar amount has not yet been determined,
Mr. Kabila said.
Mr. Kabila's meeting - his fourth in two years with
Mr. Bush - underscored the growing stability of Congo
since the peace agreement with rebels was signed earlier
this year. Since the agreement was reached, rebel leaders
have been brought into a government of national unity,
elections have been scheduled for 2005 - Mr. Kabila,
who assumed the presidency in 2001 after the assassination
of his father, Laurent Kabila, is coy about whether
he will run for president - and there is cautious talk
that the country might one day be stable enough to draw
the foreign investment to develop its resources, including
diamonds and cobalt.