A few days before the collapse of the G4 meeting in Potsdam1, the COPA-COGECA2 (Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations in the EU and Confederation of Agricultural Co-operatives in the European Union) and agricultural organizations from the five continents have once again, in a joint statement, voiced their concern about the latest evolutions in the Doha Round.
Contrary to what their name implies, the “Doha Development Round” negotiations have taken a turn that in reality weakens the three pillars of sustainable development. Even though agriculture is essential for world economic growth and is able to meet the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century, the World Trade Organization (WTO) today does not recognize specificities.
WOAgri therefore reaffirms its support for the COPA-COGECA and the representatives of agricultural organizations who represent more than 165 million farmers worldwide, by presenting their statement in full.
“ We, farm leaders from developing and developed countries throughout the world, share strong concerns about the current WTO Doha Round negotiations on agriculture.
At present the trade talks are being dominated by the interests of a few large agricultural exporters. The special role which agriculture plays - providing food security to local populations, maintaining viable rural communities and looking after the world's precious land resources - is being totally ignored.
Furthermore, negotiators should remember that the Doha Round is a “development round”, not a “market access round”. The vital need for developing countries to be able to build up their agricultural base, in order to ensure food security and the livelihood of their rural population, is being totally ignored. Over two-thirds of the WTO members, including the G10, G33, ACP countries and the EU, have made it clear that these concerns, including import sensitivity, must be respected in WTO.
Yet, even the Chair of the agricultural negotiations, Mr. Crawford Falconer, makes virtually no mention of non-trade concerns in the papers he has just published on how he sees the way forward in the negotiations.
Instead he focuses on the interests of food exporting countries such as the Cairns group, the US and G20 by proposing an average tariff cut of over 50% and totally inadequate measures to enable countries to protect their more vulnerable sensitive or special products.
We firmly support the objective that all WTO members respect the same clear and transparent rules for world trade and use policy instruments which do not undermine world market stability. These rules must permit countries to implement policies which ensure that the concerns of their own citizens about food and agriculture are met.
If Falconer's proposals were to go forward, agricultural production in many areas of the world would be at risk. This in turn would have severe consequences for half of the world's population which lives in rural areas, most of them in the poorer developing countries.
And faced with the competition from large-scale farming and multinational traders, how could farmers ensure sustainable production and care for the land in a way which ensures environmental protection and helps to alleviate the problems which are leading to climate change?
It would be a nonsense to establish trade rules which undermine agriculture's vital wider role, particularly bearing in mind that less than 10% of total food production in the world is traded internationally. We therefore call upon the millions of farmers and their families throughout the world to raise their voices and demand a fair and just outcome in WTO which takes account of the priorities below:
> the negotiations must be transparent and democratic, and include all WTO members
> the outcome of the Doha Round must be balanced and fair to ensure the coexistence of different forms of agriculture
> all WTO members must have the right to ensure food security by maintaining adequate domestic production
> all WTO members must have the right to meet the non-trade concerns of their citizens including concerns about food security, food safety, the environment, rural communities and animal welfare
> special and differential treatment for developing countries must be taken fully into consideration to meet the real needs of resource poor, vulnerable and small-scale farmers and ensure food sovereignty
> there must be a balance between the efforts made by WTO members on domestic support, export competition and market access
> tariff cuts must be well below those proposed by Chairman Falconer in way which reflects the position of all WTO members, not only those of the G20 and the USA
> tariff capping is not acceptable
> each country must be allowed to designate an appropriate number of sensitive and special products. These products must be treated with a great deal of flexibility
> special safeguards must be maintained for both developing and developed countries
> there must be reinforced rules to protect geographical indications
We want a WTO agreement but no agreement is better than a bad agreement.”
Political leaders can no longer ignore the cries of concern from these 165 million farmers. They need new regulations, adapted to the agricultural market, which take into account not only the commercial aspect but also the whole environmental, health and socio-cultural dimension of agriculture.
WOAGri’s objectives are to set up long-term principles of international trade regulations for agricultural products to guarantee sovereignty and food security, and promote the emergence of world cooperation in the agricultural sector. Through its information campaign and the construction of new decision-making tools (the NAR model and the international assessment and rating agency), WOAgri intends to promote equitable and responsible trade practices between the different nations of the world.