[Marxism] Vietnamese economic "success"
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 25 09:16:29 MDT 2006
(Going through back issues of the Counterpunch print edition, I came across
a journal Alex Cockburn kept while on tour in India. He refers to the
farming crisis in Kerala, which has led to a spate of suicides, as a
reaction to the collapse of subsidies, the expanded role of middlemen and
the "World Bank's subsidy to Vietnam whose cheap and inferior pepper comes
to Sri Lanka, a free port, and then into Kerala whose Malabar pepper is the
finest in the world." This is not the first time that I have heard Vietnam
described as having negative economic effects on other countries relying on
agro-exports. Gerard Greenfield has written about Vietnam coffee exports
undercutting exports from traditional outlets in the West. Which leads to
the observation made by Hart-Landsberg and Burkett that China's success has
come at other countries' failure since capitalism, after all, is a zero sum
Vietnam spoils Indian pepper party
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, APRIL 05, 2006 12:08:56 AM]
KOLKATA: The continuing dominance of Vietnam in the global black pepper
market has prevented India from meeting its export target for '05-06.
Against a target of 20,000 tonnes, India managed to export only 15,000
tonnes of black pepper in FY06 of which, 5,000 tonnes are of high-grade
Malabar variety of Indian origin.
While bulk of the remaining 10,000 tonnes are made of average quality
Indian black pepper in whole, which is again a blend of cheaper varieties
of pepper, imported from Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Facing stiff competition from Vietnam, India has exported just 5,000 tonnes
of high-grade Malabar-1 variety in '05-06. The main reason is that India
just could not sell the variety below $1,650 a tonne as against a price
band of $1,200-$1,300, at which Vietnam has been selling its pepper, which
is considered to be far more inferior to the Indian variety.
"Though India enjoys a niche market for that high-quality pepper in the US
and Japan, such a wide price differential with cheaper Vietnamese varieties
is gradually putting pressure on this market," a Kochi-based exporter said.
Even as India strives to stay in the world market by offering cheaper
varieties with an assortment of average grade blended pepper, it has failed
to beat Vietnam in that category too for not being able to offer it below
$1,600 per tonne, an industry analyst said.
This shows that India still remains incompetitive to cheap varieties of
black pepper, coming from Vietnam and Sri Lanka, even after availing of
That's why, the export subsidy, which has been extended for one more year
in the '06-07, has not induced Indian exporters to go on for booking export
contracts on a long-term basis, the exporter said.
The Centre, in order to dispose of a carryover stock of 60,000 tonnes of
black pepper, accumulated between '01 and '05, has agreed to provide export
subsidy at $110 per tonne on international freight and $45 a tonne on
The exporters' reluctance to pitch for more export is manifest in their
offtake of black pepper from auctions held by the Kerala government. The
state government in a bid to provide minimum support price to pepper
growers had procured last year some 5,000 tonnes of the spice at Rs 75 per kg.
But given the depressed market conditions at home and abroad, the spice did
not fetch more than Rs 71 per kg in the auctions. Even at this lower price,
exporters bid for only 1,000 tonnes of black pepper for shipment.
VIETNAM AND THE WORLD COFFEE CRISIS: LOCAL COFFEE RIOTS IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT
By Gerard Greenfield
"We hope that it is feasible to use coffee beans as fuel."
--Manfredo Topke, President, National Coffee Growers Association (Anacafe)
"Hunger is what pushed us here."
--Euxenio Rugama, Nicaraguan coffee plantation labourer in a protest march
from Matagalpa to Managua in August 2001
THE COFFEE CRISIS
On May 24, 2001, 14 young Mexican immigrants died in the Arizona desert
while attempting to enter the US to find work. Of the 14 who died, six were
bankrupted coffee farmers from the state of Veracruz. They were among an
estimated 300,000 coffee farmers in Mexico who have been forced to leave
their land in search of work. These deaths - directly linked to the
collapse of world coffee prices - symbolise the desperation and sense of
crisis faced by small coffee farmers and coffee plantation workers
throughout the region, and the world.
In Nicaragua hundreds of unemployed coffee workers and their families began
a different journey - marching from Matagalpa to Managua to protest the
destruction of their livelihoods and to demand government support for small
farmers. Nearly 400,000 families in Matagalpa are dependent on wages paid
by 44,000 coffee growers. As the price of coffee continues to decline (down
64% in two years), these families face even greater poverty.
World coffee prices have fallen to their lowest level in 32 years. Before
this price collapse coffee was the world's largest traded primary commodity
after oil. An estimated 60 million people make their livelihood from
coffee, and that livelihood - precarious and impoverished even in better
times - is now under threat.
In El Salvador the drop in coffee prices, combined with the devastation
caused by the January 2001 earthquake, left more than 30,000 coffee workers
In East Timor income from coffee production fell by 35%, affecting 40,000
families who rely directly on coffee growing for their livelihood.
In Indonesia the selling price for a kilogram of coffee beans fell to
Rp.3,000/kg, more than the cost of production at Rp.4,000/kg. In
coffee-growing regions such as Lampung, Sumatra, small farmers were plunged
deeper into debt.
More information about the Marxism