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momagri: fruitful meetings in Washington D.C.
by Jacques Carles,
General Delegate of WOAgri
A delegation from WOAgri, led by Alain Catala (Vice President) and Jacques Carles (General Delegate) visited Washington D.C. from 10th to 14th April 2007. Its objective, with a view to internationalize WOAgri, was to meet different think tanks, leaders from the agricultural sector, journalists, economists and members of Congress, before holding a conference in June when WOAgri will be presented to the international community.
This first trip was very fruitful and showed how much our approach, our work and our desire to make changes is valued and even anticipated.
We have made the four following observations:
1. Our contacts were all interested for different reasons in our project and our work, particularly regarding the model and the rating agency.
The interest expressed was particularly keen because our movement aims to introduce regulation to improve the functioning of the markets rather than to monitor them as they currently exist. It will be economic-strategic regulation by information and not by legal regulations or restrictions.
2. WOAgri’s idea, to set up international cooperation between the major sectors that determine the future of humanity with regard to agriculture (preservation of the environment, aid for development and economic growth within the framework of regulated free exchange), was met with a favorable response.
During our meetings, the idea emerged that this international cooperation could be promoted by close working ties between the United States and Europe. However, we must also note that India, China and Brazil have often been considered as major players, and it is plain that the Americans are very concerned about the competition that is beginning to emerge. We must underline the fact that we felt a real demand from the Americans for a global strategy for agriculture.
3. The work begun by WOAgri to construct a new model with different principles, a desire to move closer to reality and the ability to be aware of the stakes linked to agriculture, was met with interest and approval.
Our viewpoint, concerning the bad usage and the fragility of economic models, was met with great interest and was believed to be particularly constructive as the criteria and the principles of our new model have already been determined. Some of the people we met were well aware of this problem but often for political reasons, they had never really tackled it. The environmental cause that is currently rife in the United States, the competition from emerging countries and the concern about protecting American farmers, make our reasoning easier to understand and are the explanation for the real interest in the model we are constructing.
Most of the people to whom we spoke were therefore able to measure the scope of the NAR model and, subject to the results we will provide, believe it will supply the answers we need to new major issues in the 21st century: preservation of the environment, the fight against poverty, the development of biofuels…
4. WOAgri’s project, to construct an assessment and rating agency, incited as much interest as the NAR model.
The Americans are “keen supporters” of private, independent and responsible enterprise. A rating agency that respects the rules has more value for them than a government or international agency, and in this respect we are aware how much the FAO has been discredited. They also believe, rightly, that this agency will be the necessary complement to the NAR model, by supplying information concerning agriculture, exchange, development and the environment to political and economic players.
In conclusion, our delegation, which will this time be led by Pierre Pagesse (President of WOAgri), accompanied by several founder members, will go back to Washington D.C. for a second visit from 21st to 28th June 2007. WOAGri’s conference will take place at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace headquarters during the afternoon of 25th June, and partnerships with certain think tanks should be confirmed during this second visit. It is possible that several well-known American economists will become WOAgri’s correspondents. Finally, interviews are planned with members of Congress, who have responsibilities in International Trade and Agriculture.
You will find a report of the interviews that took place in Washington D.C. in our Analyses and Comments section.