- Über uns
Within the framework of the initiative "Securing Food - For a Global Paradigm Shift in Agricultural Policies" FIAN, German National Association of Worldshops and Germanwatch support fair rules for international trade in agricultural goods. It is our opinion that a Global Paradigm Shift in Agricultural Policies is necessary to ensure the human right to food for all human beings and to provide agricultural production with a social, ecological and consequently, sustainable profile. Small-scale agriculture with its unique cultural diversity must be protected because it contributes to food security. Its future existence is threatened. Liberalisation in the South, pushed forward by IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank and WTO (World Trade Organisation) and, continuing agricultural protectionism in the North endangers the livelihoods of small farmers. Thus, the rules for international trade in agricultural goods must be reformed in such a way that they work for, not against, small farmers, and thus contribute to combating hunger and securing the human right to food. Therefore, Germanwatch, FIAN Germany and German National Association of Worldshops advocate a far-reaching reform of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and the introduction of a Development Box in particular. The proposals combine the organisations' different expertise regarding development policy, human rights policy and fair trade, and are intended to be discussed in detail with partners from the South and to be modified, if necessary.
The WTO Agreement on Agriculture
The Agreement on Agriculture must be redressed in order to reduce poverty and hunger in developing countries, particularly in rural areas. Trade should contribute to achieving the UN's 2015 Millennium Development Goal - halving the proportion of people living in utmost poverty and hunger until 2015. The objective stated in the preamble of the Agreement on Agriculture is to establish a fair and market-orientated system for trade in agricultural goods, while taking account of non-trade concerns such as food security and environmental the agreement's content does not yet appropriately reflect this basis.
The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) establishes reduction commitments concerning market access, domestic support and export subsidies. Measures listed in Annex II (Green Box) are exempted from reduction commitments if they do not or only slightly distort trade. General investment support and support for agricultural resources for small farmers (Art. 6.2. AoA) in developing countries and subsidies accompanied by production restrictions (Art. 6.5. AoA) are exempted as well. The explicit reference to "low-income and resource-poor farmers" in Article 6.2 deserves special attention as it stresses the need for supporting small farmers in specific ways. The "peace clause", in force until the end of 2003 protects domestic support and export subsidies against WTO dispute settlement challenges (Art. 13 AoA).
The AoA has not yet adequately take account of developing countries' problems and the goal of combating hunger, ensuring the human right to food, and addressing the needs of small farmers.
Present regulations in the context of special and differential treatment for developing countries are not sufficient to tackle the problems of developing countries and to meet the needs of small farmers. These regulations do not contribute to achieving food security. To the contrary, the provisions are accommodating towards developed countries' support procedures for their agricultural sectors, especially towards the subsidy policies of the United States and the European Union. In fact, achieving fair rules for trade in agricultural goods requires reversing the differential treatment practice of developed countries.
Trade Liberalisation Threatens Small Farmers and Small-scale Agriculture
Article 20 of the AoA states that the negotiations take account of the most recent experiences when implementing reduction commitments. Non-trade concerns and special and differential treatment should be taken into account as an integral part of the Agreement on Agriculture. The Doha Development Agenda confirmed this explicitly.
A precise and subtle analysis of the impacts of trade liberalisation on small farmers and food security in the South must bear in mind that the WTO is not the only actor. Many of the adverse impacts can be can be traced back to structural adjustment programmes of IMF, regional trade agreements, and progressive national liberalising actors. However, some of the experiences can be directly linked to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture:
Thus, liberalisation of trade in agricultural goods threatens food security and the human right to food. In view of these experiences, the WTO Agreement on Agriculture must be reformed significantly. New safeguards for developing countries and small farmers, export subsidy reductions and changes geared towards securing the human right to food are crucial. Opening markets in the North is not the right way to solve the problems of small farmers caused by trade liberalisation. It could even have adverse effects, if market opening leads to increased export orientation and concentration in the agricultural sector, with large-scale producers marginalising small farmers.
Including Development Concerns as Integral Part in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture
Since the breakdown of the WTO Ministerial in Seattle in 1999 some developing countries and many NGOs have been urging to embody development concerns and specific needs of small farmers in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. The proposal to include a "Development Box" in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture addresses precisely these concerns. The urgent need for a development box becomes clear in view of the fact that three quarters of the poor and hungry peoplein developing countries live in rural areas and, on average, 70 per cent of the population works in the agricultural sector.
At the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001 a meeting of the "Friends of the Development Box" group was held.(1) They found that the agriculture negotiations had ignored the concerns of many developing countries regarding the problems of small farmers. The present WTO trade system also legitimises unfair trade in agricultural goods. Their demand to insert an explicit reference to the so-called Development Box in the Ministerial Declaration was not met. However, the Ministerial Declaration provides that special and differential treatment for developing countries should be an integral part of all negotiating elements in order to take development needs, including food security and rural development, into account effectively. Now it's up to the WTO Members to enliven this commitment.
To change the AoA is an obligation of the global community and the federal government of Germany, which stresses the human right to food in its strategy for combating poverty. These changes are necessary to ensure justice and human rights. No conditions, such as requiring developing countries to make concessions in other trade sectors, shall therefore be attached to these changes.
The Development Box accounts for existing disparities and addresses important development concerns. Our goal is:
Which provisions will be integrated into the AoA depends on the negotiating process. German National Association of Worldshops, FIAN Germany and Germanwatch hold the opinion that the following measures are necessary to achieve the objectives mentioned above:
I. Measures to protect domestic key staples production and small farmers in developing countries from dumping due to subsidised imports. These measures are part of the special and differential treatment provisions.
II. Measures that allow developing countries greater flexibility in promoting rural development and food security and specifically supporting small farmers. These measures are part of the special and differential treatment provisions.
III. Measures which target areas important for the economic development of developing countries or the promotion of food security. These measures are not part of the special and differential treatment provisions.
Consequently, the Federal Government of Germany and the European Union must:
Additionally, the federal government of Germany and the European Union shall take the following urgent initiative in regard to the Fifth Session of the Ministerial Conference in Cancun:
Developing countries shall be granted the right to immediately impose countervailing duties to the extent of the subsidy share of the farmers in OECD countries (share of the total support estimate in gross production value of the agricultural sector, according to OECD assessment) by the WTO Members states. In return, the peace clause would be extended until 2005.
Developing countries need the immediate opportunity to protect themselves against subsidised imports and dumping due to the state support and market power of transnational corporations. Furthermore, this measure must be regarded as compensation for the developed countries' "timeout" in regard to the implementation of reduction commitments. While the developed countries' implementation period ended in 2000, it will continue for developing countries until 2005.
(1) Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zimbabwe. For more details see: http://www.wtowatch.org/library/admin/uploadedfiles/Press_statement_by_Friends_of_the_Development_.doc