Saturday, December 17, 2005

30,000 Pounds of Rotten Bananas

I've just started reading Tim Harford's new book, The Undercover Economist, and it looks to be an excellent book. He has an op-ed in the NY Times on farm subsidies and the regulatory hurdles facing agricultural producers in developing countries. While many (myself included) are quick to criticize the rich countries of the world for their destructive farm subsidies, Harford makes a valid point: developing nations are not making things any easier on themselves with the bureaucratic hoop-jumping necessary to export goods. Take this example from the Central African Republic:

...if our picker wants to sell his bananas abroad he first has to get them onto a ship bound for America or Europe. That takes 116 days, and an incredible 38 signatures - each one an opportunity for some official to collect a bribe. Something is rotten here, and not just the bananas.

And we complain about the DMV! Clearly, we need action from both sides on this issue.


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