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[分享] 中英双语新闻-廉价食品调控政策代价高昂

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发表于 2007-10-28 11:11 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
The high cost of cheap food
廉价食品调控政策代价高昂

Published: October 24 2007 20:37 | Last updated: October 24 2007 20:37

In 1973 Richard Nixon, US president, under political pressure because of rising domestic food prices, banned the export of soyabeans. The policy had predictably dire results, but today, with the world in the grip of another bout of food price inf lation, governments worldwide are rushing to distort the market with subsidies and quotas, price controls and export taxes. They should stop.
1973年由于国内食品价格上涨,美国总统尼克松迫于政治压力,下令禁止大豆出口。不出所料,该政策导致了可怕后果。然而今天,所有全世界遭遇又一轮食品价格上涨,各国政府都忙于用补贴、配额、价格控制和出口关税等手段来干预市场。它们不该这么做。

In the run-up to its presidential election, Russia has imposed price controls on basic foodstuffs, and plans an export tariff on wheat. China already controls prices; other importers, including Egypt, Jordan, Bangladesh and Morocco, are increasing subsidies or fiddling with their tariff regimes.
在总统大选来临之际,俄罗斯对基本食品实施了价格控制,并计划对小麦征收出口关税(详情见俄罗斯在大选前冻结食品价格
地址
)。中国已经在控制食品价格,埃及、约旦、孟加拉和摩洛哥等食品进口国正在增加补贴或改动关税制度。

The simple problem with all these actions is that they distort the market. Price controls and export tariffs make production less profitable, which discourages increased supply and can make shortages worse. Subsidies stimulate demand so it does not fall into line with higher prices. All distort the terms of trade within a country. Farmers suffer at the expense of city dwellers – especially perverse in countries with high rural poverty, such as China.
所有这些做法都存在一个问题,那就是他们都扭曲了市场。价格控制和出口关税降低了生产利润,阻碍了供应的增加,可能导致食品短缺加剧。补贴会刺激需求,掩盖了价格上涨的趋势。他们全都扭曲了国内的贸易条件。城市居民为农民的损失买单,在中国等农村贫困率较高的国家,这种情况尤为普遍。

None of this is too bad in the short term. If food prices fall back, price controls become meaningless, subsidies can be withdrawn and export tariffs no longer make sense. The more pernicious problems will appear if food prices stay high. With more demand for protein from fast-growing Asian middle classes, lunatic policies to subsidise corn-based ethanol and the legacy of under investment during long years of low prices, that prospect seems likely.
这些措施在短期内都不算太糟。一旦食品价格回落,价格控制就会变得毫无用处,补贴可能被取消,出口关税也失去意义。如果食品价格居高不下,则会出现更严重的问题。随着迅速壮大的亚洲中产阶级对蛋白质的需求增加,政府采取及其愚蠢的政府补贴以玉米为原料的乙醇生产,加上食品价格长期低迷导致投资不足所带来的后遗症,后一种情况看来很有可能出现。

For exporters, distorting the market in favour of domestic consumers harms the balance of payments, lowers investment and helps rivals. Nixon’s ban is often credited with creating Brazil’s soyabean industry.
对食品出口过来说,为了国内消费者利益而扭曲市场,会损害国际收支平衡,抑制投资,帮助竞争对手。人们通常认为,尼克松的禁令促成了巴西大豆产业的兴起。

For net food importers, who can keep prices down without shortages only by offering subsides, the risks are much more serious. Cheap food is an open-ended fiscal commitment – once in place it is politically impossible to withdraw – that can play havoc with a budget. Developing countries have improved their fiscal position in recent years. They should not throw that away.
对于只能通过补贴来维持低价和避免短缺的食品进口国来说,风险还大得多。廉价食品是一项没有尽头的财政义务,一旦存在,从政治上来说就是不可能被取消的,有可能对预算造成严重破坏。发展中国家近年来改善了他们各自的政府财政。他们不该放弃这一成果。

Rich countries, where food is a small part of total consumption, have less to worry about, although they should beware the ratchet effect as food importers increase subsidies and food producers tax exports, driving up world market prices still further. But leaders in the developing world, no matter the political pressure to bring down the cost of grain, should resist. Cheap food comes at a high price.
对于食品在消费总开支中只占一小部分的富裕国家而言,需要担心的问题要少一些,但他们应该意识到,食品进口过增加补贴和食品生产国征收出口关税会带来棘轮效应,进一步抬高世界食品价格。无论降低食品价格的政治压力有多大,发展中世界的领导人都应该顶住。廉价食品价格会付出高昂代价。
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