During the conference held by WOAgri at the CEIP, the members of the delegation met with several public figures from different fields (agricultural unions, NGOs, think tanks, research centers, congressional staffers, assistants from the USDA and USTR …) but who all have one thing in common: they are the architects of tomorrow’s agriculture.
The talks were globally characterized by converging viewpoints on the challenges facing world agriculture, as well as the strategy to adopt to tackle them, which are highlighted in the summaries of the different interviews we conducted.
Sandra Polaski, Director of the Trade, Equity and Development Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
The CEIP, where the conference was held, is one of the most renowned and prestigious think tanks in Washington DC and, therefore, in the world.
Sandra Polaski pointed out in her introductory speech and conclusion how important she considers the work of WOAgri, for agriculture but also for development.
“The main contribution of WOAgri is to create new management tools. This is good news at a time when the Doha Round negotiations are in deadlock”.
To a certain extent she has therefore adopted our approach, which is not limited to the NAR model, but also includes a rating agency and a new international organization for agriculture. This is an important recommendation for us because the Carnegie Institute is one of the main vehicles of thought and influence in international relations.
The WOAgri conferenceat the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace1
The goal of the conference was to inform an audience that was representative of the United States capital (diplomatic corps, journalists, think tanks) on the objectives, approach and current status of the work carried out by WOAgri.
We created strong interest by making this presentation in the United States, a certain intellectual stimulation concerning our work and a fledgling interest in the results we could potentially produce: both with the NAR model and the rating agency.
This interest can be analyzed as follows, according to the opinions heard by the different participants:
> Our perspective is new, powerful, and recognized as legitimate. Our demonstration of how far international negotiations are based on weak and dubious forecasts and information has been understood.
> Our approach, which consists in building a “framework” for international cooperation, backed up by a new generation of management tools that compensate for the flaws of standard models and generalized misinformation inside the WTO, has also been perceived as an innovation worthy of interest.
> Our work has not, at any time, been “suspected” of representing a hostile maneuver on the part of the French. Moreover, Sandra Polaski said that our visit was well timed at a moment when international negotiations are in deadlock. This remark clearly shows that our work has been recognized since our strategy from the beginning has been to fill the void surrounding the Doha round.
Jim Murphy, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs under Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative
Jim Murphy is a senior assistant to Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative, and is a negotiator for agricultural affairs at the WTO. After occupying his current position for 5 years, he is getting ready to become the assistant of Robert Zoellick’s, the new president of the World Bank.
This meeting was particularly interesting because it revealed that the American officials were perfectly aware of the need to protect their agriculture and create the necessary conditions to prevent it from being affected by poorly organized international competition.
Jim Murphy duly noted our objectives and the important role our management and information tools could play in the future. He also expressed the desire to be regularly updated on the progress of our work.
Thomas Mahr, legislative director for Senator Kent Conrad
Thomas Mahr is the legislative director of Senator Kent Conrad (D - North Dakota), who is considered to be a leading figure in American agricultural issues and one of the ten most influential senators today.
The interview turned out to be very productive and was characterized by converging viewpoints in numerous areas: first, on the fact that the “break” in the WTO negotiations is likely to last until the end of 2008, but also the importance of adopting common tools, capable of expressing the specificities of agriculture, in particular price volatility.
Esther Brimmer, Director of Research at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (Johns Hopkins University – SAIS)
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University is one of the most prestigious American schools for international economic relations. It is also one of the rare schools invited to take part in informal meetings at Washington embassies on “hot” current topics because the subtlety and relevance of its analyses are appreciated by all.
Esther Brimmer showed real interest for the work WOAgri is doing and she underlined the need for the NAR model.
She praised the fact that WOAgri aims, in particular, to initiate international cooperation on agricultural issues and to restore confidence among users in economic models while alerting them to the dangers of relying on imperfect models.
Cooperation between our two organizations could be envisaged in the future.