Writing in the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, Vittorio Agnoletto cites the ‘chicken invasion’ of Cameroon as just one example of what happens to African countries when they submit to free trade principles by eliminating duties and economic protections.
‘Due to subsidies provided by the EU to European farmers, prices of local chicken in Cameroon cannot be competitive. The quantity of legal and illegal imports of EU frozen chicken in Cameroon went up from 900 tons in 1996 to 22,153 tons in 2003, with the consequent loss of 110,000 jobs. Out of 1,000 small farms that in 1996 owned some 500 chickens each, in 2002 only 8 survived.’
Cameroonians have successfully struck back by organizing a boycott campaign of frozen imported chicken, and forcing the reintroduction of taxation on imported products and the removal of taxes on local products. National production and employment rates have improved as a result.
Next month’s New Internationalist explores Trade Justice.