THE government is carefully weighing its options on protecting the Philippines’ rice market, as it could entail opening up the country’s market for other farm goods traded under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
An official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also disclosed that it would be up to the next administration to determine whether it would negotiate for the retention of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice.
“[The DA] will just make a recommendation but it will be up to the next administration whether it will go for the retention of the QR,” said the DA official who is privy on trade matters.
So far, the official said the DA has not yet come up with a final recommendation regarding the possible extension of the QR on rice and that the matter is under “careful study.”
Read the full story at Business Mirror
As an agricultural country with a variety of products topping the world’s import list, every year Vietnam still has to spend a large amount of foreign currency to import farm products, including vegetables, fruits, salt and milk. This paradoxical fact has existed for many years.
A variety of imported agricultural products are sold in markets and supermarkets in Vietnam. Most of them come from the US, China, Australia, Thailand and Japan. While Vietnamese agricultural products have difficulty in finding consumer markets, similar imported products continue to enter the daily meal of Vietnamese families.
In 2009, the agricultural sector achieved high revenues from exporting farm produce, earning US$15.4 billion, above the yearly set target of US$12 billion despite the global economic downturn. Vietnam was among the world’s largest exporters of rice, coffee, peppers and cashew nuts. However, last year the country also spent almost US$150 million importing vegetables and fruits from China and US$45 million purchasing farm products from Thailand. Furthermore, Vietnamese farmers have grown a lot of maize and cassava, but they still have to import fodder for cattle and fish from 25 countries around the world.
Read the full article at VOV News
The Philippines will use the same line of defense it has been employing with the European Union (EU) when it negotiates with a new complainant over its tax system on distilled spirits—the United States.
The USTR Thursday last week filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge against Philippine excise taxes on alcohol that it said discriminate against US-made brands, particularly whisky and gin.
Manuel A.J. Teehankee, the Philippines permanent representative to the WTO, said the Philippines would continue to balance the interests of the country’s farmers affected by the tax regime.
Read the full story at Malaya
Pham Quang Dieu from the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture spoke to Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper about agricultural production since Viet Nam acceded to the WTO.
The WTO’s effect on Viet Nam during the financial crisis is still not clear. What lessons about economic integration has been learned since the crisis?
First, the crisis revealed the shortcomings of the economy and industries. Such shortcomings existed in the competitiveness of local products and the ability of companies to adapt. The crisis also emphasised the need for the application of international technical standards in import and export. The recession also shed light on the limited capacity of supervision mechanisms for imported goods such as vegetables and meats that are necessary to protect consumers’ health.
Secondly, the crisis sounded the alarm for the need for economic integration. After reducing the tax on import products under the WTO, several foreign countries often build a lot of technical barriers on imported goods so that they can promote their own products.
Read the full article at Viet Nam News
AFA participated in a WTO public forum entitled “Global Problems, Global Solutions: Towards Better Global Governance” held last 28 30 September 28 30, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Click here for more information about the WTO Public Forum 2009: http://www.wto.org/english/forums_e/public_forum09_e/public_forum09_e.htm
AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia was a panellist for a session organized by IATP on September 29 at 2:15-4:15 PM entitled “A new global contract for food and agriculture: what can the WTO contribute?”
Click here for a blog article and audio recording of the session from AITP: http://iatp.typepad.com/thinkforward/2009/10/another-take-on-wto-and-food-stuff.html
Continue reading AFA participates in WTO public forum (Sep 28-30)
Renato Penas, Vice-President of PAKISAMA, was ambushed dead by unidentified gunmen at 11:00 PM yesterday, on the way to his farm in Sumilao, Bukidnon.
He was 51.
His 2 companions are in the hospital nursing gunshot wounds.
It was a high price to pay for selflessly dedicating himself to the agrarian reform movement.
He is one of the most respected, trusted farmer-leaders, and whose creative, dynamic ideas have fired the spirits of many farmers to make the agrarian reform program truly work in the country.
Continue reading PAKISAMA leader ambushed! (updated)
BANGKOK, April 24 (Bernama) — Eight Southeast Asian countries are among 26 nations identified as hotspots for food insecurity in the region, according to the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Asia and the Pacific report released by the United Nations (UN) Friday.
Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and the newest nation Timor Leste were cited in the report along with Afghanistan, Nepal, Armenia, New Caledonia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Solomon Islands, Georgia, Sri Lanka, India, Tajikistan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Vanuatu.
The total population of these countries is more than 2.2 billion, which is 53.8 per cent of the region’s population.
Read the full article at Bernama
BBC, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 23:46 UK
Marathon talks in Geneva aimed at liberalising global trade have collapsed, the head of the World Trade Organisation has said.
Pascal Lamy confirmed the failure, which officials have blamed on China, India and the US failing to agree on import rules.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the result was “heartbreaking”.
The talks were launched in 2001 in Doha and were seen as providing a cornerstone for future global trade.
The main stumbling block was farm import rules, which allow countries to protect poor farmers by imposing a tariff on certain goods in the event of a drop in prices or a surge in imports.
India, China and the US could not agree on the tariff threshold for such an event.
Washington said that the “safeguard clause” protecting developing nations from unrestricted imports had been set too low.
The Canadian Press, July 29, 2008
GENEVA — Developing countries raised the spectre of millions of destitute subsistence farmers Monday as they pressed for extra protection of their domestic rice producers from surges in foreign imports.
India and Indonesia have led demands for a “special safeguard” to be included in a new global trade pact being negotiated in Geneva, despite opposition from the United States and agricultural exporters in Latin America.
Trade Minister Mari Pangestu of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, said she has to ensure the survival of some 60 million farmers – mostly small-scale rice growers – who are vulnerable to competition from large foreign producers.
Poor countries want the power to increase tariffs on rice and other foods as soon as either imports rise or prices drop by a certain level. The U.S., European Union and others have proposed severe restrictions before countries can invoke emergency tariffs, Pangestu said.
“It’s so limited that we cannot use it, whatever the situation – food crisis or no food crisis,” said the agricultural economist, who is opposing a tentative deal laid out last week by WTO chief Pascal Lamy.
Quezon City, Philippines – While negotiators from 39 member countries of WTO again meet in Geneva this week for a mini-ministerial meeting in efforts to conclude the much delayed, much controversial Doha Development Round of Negotiations, around 100 farmers and supporters belonging to the Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)and other farmer groups and civil society organizations march to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ask Philippine WTO negotiators to reject the July 10 text of the Doha round and not to sign to a new round of agreement. Agriculture has been a contentious issue since the Round started in 2001.
Bearing placards that say “No to Deal on AoA!,” the marchers included groups such as R1, TFFS, PNLC, PKKK, and AFA. They set up huge billboard at the gate of the DA containing a special order from peasants that the Philippine negotiators should (1) demand the reduction of subsidies of developed countries and (2) ask the WTO negotiators to go back to the original proposal of G33 and lobby for good SSM agreement. Otherwise, there should be no deal on AoA.
(Photo taken by Mr. Kang, Min Su.)
Click here to read the statement
Click here to see more photos
WTO Mini Ministerial Meeting
July 21-25, 2008
This week, negotiators from many member countries of WTO again meet in Geneva for a mini-ministerial meeting, in efforts to conclude the much delayed, much controversial Doha Development Round of Negotiations. Agriculture has been a contentious issue since the Round started in 2001.
We, the Asian Farmers’ Association, an alliance of national farmers organizations in Asia representing nine million farmers, were happy that major groupings of developing countries in WTO, such as the LDC group, the ACP group, and the G33, have made a statement that there will be “no deal” without adequate treatment of special products and special safeguard mechanisms. We are happy that India and Brazil, of the G20 group, continuously call for drastic cuts n the heavy subsidies given and high tariff barriers imposed by developed countries, particularly the US and EU.
Continue reading OPEN LETTER to OFFICIAL WTO NEGOTIATORS
07/15/2008 | 08:30 PM , GMA News TV
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government’s entry and concurrence to World Trade Organization (WTO) and Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) has led to the present rice crisis and has wreaked havoc on the livelihood of farmers and other sectors, as well as to the food security of the third world countries.
ASHOK B SHARMA, The Financial Express, Posted online: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 23:19 hrs
The revised texts for multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture and industrial goods released on July 10 do not offer much to benefit the developing world. There is practically not much difference in spirit of the drafts issued in July and those released in May.
The negotiations on designation of Special Products and use of Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) are vital for the developing world in protecting their agriculture and livelihood from a possible surge in cheap imports. The revised draft released by Crawford Falconer has largely disappointed the developing countries.
ASHOK B SHARMA, The Financial Express, Posted online: Monday , July 21, 2008 at 23:16 hrs
Agriculture still remains to be a contentious issue as Geneva gets ready to host the mini-ministerial for reviving the multilateral trade negotiations. In agriculture, both the offensive and defensive interests are likely to come to the fore with equal vigour
The issue of Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SP/SSM) is a key issue in the current Doha Round of negotiations. The SP/SSM seems to be one of few issues that developing countries are quite strong on, and that the US is strongly opposed to, meaning that if the developing countries (G33) stay strong in defense of SP/SSM, it could keep the Round deadlocked. If the Round goes through, then SP and SSM are measures to protect farmers from further damage from WTO rules.
This issue paper presents basic information on SP/SSM, reviews the G33 position, CSO position, and proposes advocacy points for farmers.
Written for AFA by Lany Rebagay of AsiaDHRRA.
Available download here:
Issue paper on sp/ssm
Time for a New Agenda to Fix Global Food and Agricultural Trade
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 8, 2008, 3:00 PM
CONTACT: Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy
Ben Lilliston 612-870-3416 email@example.com
Minneapolis/Geneva – April 8 – New draft agricultural trade rules released at the World Trade Organization (WTO) today fail to repair a deeply flawed negotiating agenda, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). This latest attempt to save the Doha Round adds nothing new except more loopholes and exemptions to an already complicated text.
Continue reading In the News: New WTO Agriculture Text Falls Short – Again
March 20, 2008 By Anne-Laure Constantin, TIP/IATP
In 2008, the United Nations (UN) has chosen to hold its major trade and development conference in Africa. Ministers from all around the world will meet in Accra, the capital of Ghana, starting April 20. In addition to ministers, a crowd of 4,000 international civil servants, civil society activists, business representatives, and journalists is expected to descend on the usually discrete West African capital.
The World Trade Organization (WTO), its Doha “Development” Round and its highly publicized ministerial conferences have received most of the attention over the past ten years. But the UN has its own important forum on trade and development: UNCTAD (the UN Conference on Trade and Development). What’s the point? And what are the stakes of this year’s UNCTAD meeting?
Read the full article at the Trade Observatory website
19 September 2007
Debt and trade activists staged a picket at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Manila office Wednesday and stressed that the “Aid for Trade” being pushed by World Trade Organization (WTO), international financial institutions (IFIs) especially ADB, and the powerful G-8 nations is “nothing but a bribe” or a “dangling rotten carrot” in front of developing countries.
Continue reading Debt and trade activists: No to aid for unfair trade!
June 23, 2006
Nine million small farmers and producers from ten countries in Asia call on governments of developing agricultural countries to ensure that “pro-small farmer” rules will be agreed in the current WTO negotiations in Geneva as well as in bilateral agreements currently forged by their governments with the United States.
The Asian Farmersâ€™Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), an alliance of nine million farmers from eight countries in Asia, launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2002, supports the proposal of developing countriesâ€™ blocs in WTO in pushing for significant number and meaningful treatment of special products as well as for effective use of special safeguard mechanisms. AFA also strongly calls governments of developing countries to move slowly , carefully and cautiously in forging bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with the USA , as such agreements are observed to be detrimental to the lives of poor and subsistence agricultural farmers and producers.
AFA leaders are currently in Taiping to participate in the four-day 6th General Assembly of the Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (AsiaDHRRA) , a regional network of non-government organization in ten countries in Asia. The General Assembly is hosted by AsiaDHRRA’s member in Malaysia, the DHRRA Network Malaysia headed by Mr. Marimuthu Nadason.
Continue reading Asian Farmers Call for more “pro-small farmer” measures in WTO and FTAs
6th April, 2006
Dear Members and friends,
In response to the WTO Ministerial Meeting last December, many people’s organizations in Hong Kong’s workers, churches, migrants, students, women, community, etc., have carried out activities on globalization issues and mobilized their members to participate actively in the activities of the People’s Action Week aiming to make people’s voice heard.
Based on these valuable experiences, we, the HKPA have decided to broaden our network amongst grassroot organizations and people impacted adversely by globalization and neo-liberal processes. Therefore, the HKPA and the Global Network – Hong Kong have decided to merge the two organizations together and form a wider and broader people’s platform titled Hong Kong People’s Alliance on Globalization (HKPA).
It aims to carry on the fight against the unjust policies and agreements made by governments and corporate powers locally and internationally and by various actions such as public education, research, advocacy campaigns, etc.. To do this, we will join hands with the people’s organizations concerned with globalization issues in Hong Kong and China.
For enquiry or feedback, please contact Suzanne Wu on 3173 8412/9218 4577, or emial to secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Tang, Chairperson,
Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO
(note: letter abridged) more info here…