Thursday, September 03, 2009

More Rich Country vs Poor Country

In another round of the battle between Rich Country vs Poor Country. A mini-meeting of ministers of the World Trade Organization is about take place in India. Ahead of the meeting, comes a statement from over 125 NGO's on behalf of the poor countries. Among the accusations listed in the statement: a failed global agricultural system, a lack of access to food, an increase in hunger, and an erosion of farmers incomes.

From the IPS, reporter Isolda Agazzi tells us more of what's contained in the statement, and it's hopes of influencing the upcoming meetings of the WTO.

The signatories to the letter argue that the WTO talks at the moment do not constitute a "development round" and that greater trade liberalisation would not help poor countries recover from the economic and food crisis.

They point out that the deregulation of trade in agriculture has led to the abolition of commodities boards that helped to manage supply and to their replacement by volatile and speculative commodity markets.

Moreover, the global agricultural system allows rich countries to subsidise their farmers. The subsidised products flow into developing countries’ markets, "representing unfair competition to local farmers", destroying livelihoods and increasing hunger.

The NGOs point out that even where export subsidy limits exist, the U.S. and the EU regularly violate them and dump their agricultural products on developing countries’ markets, ruining farming communities.

Another serious problem, according to the NGOs, lies in the global trading system that does not allow developing countries to protect and support local food production for domestic consumption. Despite this having caused the food crisis and the erosion of farmers’ income, rich countries are still pushing Southern ones to open up their markets, while refusing to reduce the subsidies they provide to their own agribusiness exports.

A coalition of more than 46 countries, called the G33, is organising the resistance to these unjust policies and activities within the WTO: they are lobbying for so-called special products and special safeguards mechanisms that would allow developing countries to adopt protective measures in times of rising imports or crisis.

"Unity among these countries – supported by an even larger coalition of more than 100 countries - is an essential step towards improving the current agricultural trade system" stress the signatories. But this is precisely what rich countries don’t want, leading to the stalling of the Doha Round in July 2008.

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