The FAO has just renewed its "Food security and trade in the Caribbean" project, carried out in partnership with Italy, for an additional three years. The project has been underway for four years, and helps the 15 member countries of CARICOM (an acronym for Caribbean Community that refers to the common market for the countries of the Caribbean basin) to "promote food security and profit from liberalization."
These countries are particularly impacted by the effects of trade liberalization, which increase the vulnerability of their economies. The forced lifting of all trade barriers would leave local markets completely exposed to competition from the global market, even though traditional agriculture, which is vital to the economies of these countries, is not yet able to rival the much more competitive production of developed and emerging countries. Furthermore, exports still focus on a small handful of products and are handicapped by geographical isolation, a severe lack of infrastructure, limited agricultural areas and complete vulnerability to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes.
Based on this observation, the FAO initiated the program to address the issue of improving food security not only from the perspective of production – by organizing a variety of workshops with farmers and operators in the agricultural industry on topics such as irrigation, warding off pests and post-harvest management, for example – but also from the "crucial perspective of trade policies and strategies." To this end, training and specific advice on bilateral and multilateral agreements were provided to the various stakeholders to help them better prepare for trade negotiations and, more specifically, better defend their use of special product and safeguard mechanisms within the framework of the World Trade Organization.
WOAgri agrees with the FAO's analysis of the devastating effects that could be caused by complete liberalization without regulation. Strengthening the negotiating power of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, so as to rebalance the power relations acted out in the context of the WTO, is also a basic necessity in the search for greater equity.
However, WOAgri wishes to go even further by proposing a new approach to global agricultural issues, particularly those related to international trade. Developing countries, such as the Caribbean countries, will only benefit from liberalization if regulations are implemented to strengthen regional integration and stabilize prices whose volatility impedes agricultural development. These are the fundamental principles on which WOAgri was developed and which we are using to create the conditions that will enable the emergence of renewed global cooperation.