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SUBSIDY WATCH BLOG

Explore news, commentary and analysis related to subsidies and sustainable development.

Commentary: The True Price of Energy in Asia: Pricing Non-Costed Externalities

There are signs aplenty in rural Asia of the profligate use of energy - electrical and fossil fuel - but little evidence that such use is being assessed against its true costs. This is because supplying cheap power (and in some cases free power) is a valuable political lever. In rural Asia, the value of such 'support' can be judged by the scale of popular opposition to its withdrawal.

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Moving pillars: A comment on the November 2007 CAP healthcheck

Direct payments were introduced during the CAP reform of 1992, allowing a transition from the earlier production-oriented CAP toward policies intended to promote rural restructuring and the positive externalities that can result from farm-related activities. Direct payments introduced in 1992, as farm income support instruments, were subsidies per hectare of crops or per head of animal.

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Subsidies to biofuels: A time to take stock

The appearance of GSI's recent survey of how OECD economies are pouring billions into subsidising biofuels provides a good time to take stock of the GSI project.   Ours is not an ideological crusade against subsidies. Subsidies are a perfectly legitimate policy tool. Spending public money to advance private ends can sometimes make sense. But those who claim that have to provide hard evidence.

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WTO farm subsidy talks: In search of a way forward

Rich and poor countries alike are locked in battle over farm subsidy spending in negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, where a 17 July draft text by the chair of the agriculture negotiations has sparked renewed controversy between delegates.   Sixty years of trade negotiations - under the WTO and its forerunner the GATT - have bequeathed only minimal controls on agricultural subsidies.

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Commentary: U.S. Farm and Energy Bills: Guest Opinion

The U.S. Congress is in the process of enacting its new federal legislation in areas of agricultural and energy policy. In July, the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the farm bill, while the Senate will tackle its version in September. Meanwhile, both Houses have passed quite different versions of the energy bill. These bills will also need a stamp of approval from the Executive Branch in the fall. Subsidy Watch has asked three experts to highlight what they consider the good and bad in these bills.

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Chocking the modern city: Fuel subsidies and the case of Indonesia

When Indonesia started subsidizing fuel in 1967, in the early days of President Suharto, the policy seemed to make sense given the staggering poverty at the time. Hyperinflation hit 650 percent, and the resulting public anger forced Founding Father President Sukarno to step down after 22 years of power. Suharto then introduced fuel subsidies as a means to keep poverty at bay.

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Going to Market: Why India Needs More than OECD Subsidy Reform

Wealthy countries support their farmers through a host of different measures, such as direct payments, price incentives and export subsidies, which artificially reduce world prices below the cost of production and inhibit the ability of farmers in poorer countries to compete in the world market.

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Commentary: Does subsidy removal hurt The poor? The case of fuel subsidies in Nigeria

A jump in fuel prices is never welcome by the general populace. Yet in Nigeria, where fuel prices are regulated, the government has recently allowed the price of refined petroleum products' to rise, and is prepared to continue doing so. The Nigerian government routinely imports petroleum and sells these imports at below cost on the domestic market to keep price levels down.

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Sowing the Seeds of Failure: A Critique of The 2007 US Farm Bill

United States farm subsidy programs are again proving to be a major obstacle to expanding international trade opportunities at Geneva meetings aimed at reviving the Doha round of trade negotiations. Opponents of farm subsidy reform may be applauding this impasse, but there is be no reason for glee from the public at large. U.S. farm subsidy programs are broken and need to be fixed.

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The Politics of Inefficient Irrigation Technology

Call it is one of the unknown Indian ironies. Over many years, the Indian state, through its public irrigation agencies, has systematically taken over the management of surface water systems. It has taken over the job of building irrigation systems-dams, reservoirs and canals-then maintaining these and supplying water.

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Removing Fuel Subsidies: Clearing the Road to Sustainable Development

Fuel prices, fuel taxation and subsidies for petrol and diesel fuel rank high on the world's political agenda, particularly after the spectacular increases in world market prices for crude oil (up to USD 75 a barrel in August 2006) and the subsequent slide in price to around USD 54 a barrel in January 2007.

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An Introduction to Investment Incentives

With the progressive dismantling of formal trade barriers as a result of many rounds of global trade negotiations, subsidies have become increasingly important as a way for governments to regulate economic activity within their territories.

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Blog: Supply Management in Canada: Lessons for the South

Raised on an egg producing farm during the 1960s and ‘70s, I witnessed the transition from free-run to caged-layer technology, a move that allowed producers to expand their operations rapidly from farms of a few thousand layers to tens of thousands of layers. That, in turn, sparked a shift in Canada's agricultural policy.

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A new role for the Permanent Group of Experts on Subsidies?

The World Trade Organization's rotating group of five independent subsidy experts - the so-called Permanent Group of Experts (PGE) - is unique. It cannot, however, be considered a roaring success. This obscure group of trade lawyers and academics, "highly qualified in the field of subsidies and trade relations," has no counterpart at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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Climate Change: Is there Place for a WTO Anti-Subsidy Strategy?

In a recent article ("A New Agenda for Global Warming"), Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, suggests that Japan, Europe, and the other signatories of Kyoto should immediately bring a WTO subsidy case against the United States for not ratifying the Kyoto Convention and for not taxing adequately CO2 emissions by US firms.

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An Introduction to Energy Subsidies

The recent surge in international energy prices has placed energy subsidies at the forefront of the economic policy agenda in many countries, particularly where government interventions are intended to keep prices low to households and industry, or to protect indigenous energy industries from foreign competition.

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Subsidies to biofuels: checking the bait

People invariably ask, given we have only recently started in this business, why did we choose to work on biofuels? In deciding research priorities we have several criteria. One is that we would not try to duplicate the work of others. Another is that when we look into subsidies to a particular sector, the sector should be one that is subsidized by many countries.

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An Introduction to Service Subsidies

The last round of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks, the Uruguay Round, broke new ground by broadening the scope of world trade rules to cover areas never before subject to multilateral disciplines, and the services sector was without doubt where such broadening was most significant in economic terms.

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