Category Archives: Other News

Civil Society Declaration On The G-20 Minsiterial Meeting At Bhurban – Pakistan

September 8-10, 2005

We, the representatives of farming communities, social movements and the civil society organizations in Pakistan, are gathered here in Bhurban to demonstrate our solidarity with the G-20 and express our concerns and demands about WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

We welcome the honorable delegates of the G-20 Ministerial Meeting being held at Bhurban from September 8 to10, 2005. This meeting is taking place at a crucial point in time when only three months are left for the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting and there is no tangible movement in the Doha Round negotiations so far. We hereby adopt the following resolution and place it before the G-20 Ministerial Meeting for its record and consideration.

Aware that the G-20 has emerged as an influential group within the WTO and the emergence of the G-20 has raised the hopes for a better deal for the Third World;

Aware that since there was no first approximation in July 2005, the rich countries and forces within WTO would certainly rush to achieve the first approximation in October General Council and a successive agreement in Hong Kong;

Continue reading Civil Society Declaration On The G-20 Minsiterial Meeting At Bhurban – Pakistan

The Islamabad Declaration

Declaration of the members of the South Asian Parliaments assembled in Islamabad, Pakistan, 29-30 August 2005, for the South Asian Parliamentarians Forum on WTO Hong Kong Ministerial

Aware that the sixth ministerial meeting of the WTO, which is scheduled from December 13-18,2005 in Hong Kong will have massive consequences for the developing countries as well as the LDCS;

Aware that trade liberalization in the name of ‘free trade’ during the last decade under the WTO regime has been fundamentally flawed with disastrous results to the poor countries;
Continue reading The Islamabad Declaration

Organic Farming Takes Root in South Korea Amidst Farm Crisis

Organic Farming and the legacy of Lee Kyung Hae
by By John Feffer, AlterNet

The South Korean farmer snaps a cucumber in two to show me the drops of
moisture that bead to the surface around the break. “If you put it back
together and wait a minute, then it will stick together,” Yang Yoon Seok
says. Sure enough, he easily rejoins the severed halves and the cucumber is
once again whole. He shakes it around in the air, and, like magic, the
vegetable remains intact. “It’s not magic,” he tells me. “It’s organic.”
The Smile Farm is all organic, a little magical, and very possibly the
future of Korean agriculture. It’s not a huge farm — only 4000 pyong or a
little over 3 acres. On those three acres, though, Farmer Yang grows thirty
kinds of vegetables, all of them organic. He supplies organic stores in the
South Korean capital of Seoul, sixty kilometers to the north. He also sells
produce from a store that fronts the nearby road and distributes vegetables
through South Korea’s new organic e-farm system on the web. Thousands of
visitors a year make the pilgrimage to study Yang’s growing and marketing
techniques.

read the rest of the article here

Consumer’s Guide to GM Rice and Other Grains

This is a listing compiled by Alex Jack on genetically enhanced/modified rice and grains.

Scores of genetically modified foods and products have been introduced around the world. For a comprehensive list of products that have been approved in the United States, please see Imagine a World Without Monarch Butterflies by Alex Jack (One Peaceful World Press, 2000). This section deals primarily with GE grains in development or grain products currently on the market that contain GE ingredients.

View the list here

Indonesian Farmers Statement on the G-33 Meeting

Final statement read in the G-33 meeting. It was read by FSPI as representative of Indonesia farmers, “hoping that the statement will push stronger for G-33 not to accommodate another weak position”


AGRICULTURE IS OUR WAY OF LIFE

Appeal of Farmers Organisation and Non-Government Organization To All Delegation of G-33 Ministerial Meeting,

Jakarta, June 11-12, 2005

Distinguished delegations of the G-33 Ministerial Conference,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We, the representatives of Indonesian farmer organisations and non-government organisations, are standing here in front of you today to express our concerns over the food sovereignty, and fair trade system in the ongoing negotiation process of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We thank you all for giving us time and space to express our concerns and positions.

In relation with the G-33 Ministerial Conference Meeting in Jakarta, 11th-12th June 2005, on behalf of nine farmer organizations and non-governmental organizations, of have conducted a meeting to formulate our key positions as follows:

First The distinguished delegations here are leaders of developing countries, constituting two thirds of world Population. The G-33 group also represent the life of million peasants and peoples in developing countries who are still shackled in poverty and disadvantages. Therefore the result and conclusion of this meeting should reflect the aspiration of the majority of poor and peasants interest, and instead of resulting from pressure and intervention from any other parties.

Second, we appreciate the efforts of the Indonesian government in actively participating the implementation of this Ministerial Conference Meeting. We also appreciate various efforts that have been pursued by the G-33 member countries in promoting justice in the agricultural sector negotiations, based on the principles of food security, rural development, and the eradication of poverty. We hope this meeting function as space for power consolidation for developing countries to counter the interest and domination the developed countries such as United States, European Union, Japan and Canada.

Third, We believe that AGRICULTURE and FOOD are Human Rights and never to be considered as trade commodities. Agriculture and food should be developed for the well being of the peoples, instead of for the free trade affairs. We emphasize that there should be no clause in the WTO that intervene food and agriculture affairs as Food and agriculture is the foundation of livelihood and sustainability of hundred million peoples in developing countries.

Therefore the developing countries should unite and be more persistent in opposing the global trade regime controlled by industrial countries, a trade regime that had showed negative impacts to the peoples in developing countries.

Based on that, we appeal:

1. G33 should position itself as pioneer to protect peasants and agriculture in developing countries and to oppose any form of global trade liberalization controlled by industrial countries and multi national corporations.

2. G 33 should remain in sovereignty in negotiation and strategic positions, independent from the intervention of World Bank, IMF and Developed countries through green rooms, mini ministerial meeting.

3. The efforts to bring SP/SSM have to be strengthened with higher-level proposal to protect food sovereignty, rural livelihood and combating poverty. Therefore G33 should raise the issues of dumping, domestic support, export subsidy conducted by developed countries. The Subsidy and support for peasants and agriculture should be implemented for sustainability of peoples agriculture.

4. The proposal of SP/SSM will more valuable if it puts agrarian reform and food sovereignty as basic development policies to increase the prosperity and rights of peasants. The proposal should cut the dependency from Trans-national corporation monopoly.

5. We call for more accountability and transparency in the negotiations, and appeal for more space and participation from peoples organization through dialog and public consultation and modality drafting before it brought to Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong and WTO General Council in July.

6. Finally, we appeal that the G33 should not be entrapped in the interests of developed countries, and continue to strive for solidarity and power to counter the intervention from industrial countries. The entire struggle should be in more bold position, further taking out WTO from food and agriculture, returning trade and agriculture framework to United Nations.

Histories from various civilisations have shown that governmental systems, with developmental policies that ignore agrarian reform and their own sovereignties, will eventually collapse. The existing nation-states today will face similar fates if they remain ignorance towards the actual needs of their farmers, fishermen, and women. They all will remain awkward and poor. Therefore, it is imperative that the G-33 countries conduct increase efforts in promoting food sovereignty, agrarian reform, and fair trade system.

In the end, we appreciate the existence of the G33, and we hope that this grouping is able to forge stronger forces with other developing countries groupings.

Finally, we would like to thank you all for providing us time and space to express our concerns and positions, and shall we emphasise that:

“NO COUNTRIES WILL REMAIN SOVEREIGN AND ADVANCE IF THEY KEEP DEPENDING ON THEIR FOOD NEEDS EXTERNALLY!”

Thank you!

Jakarta, June 11th 2005

1. The Indonesian Farmers’ Union Federation (FSPI)
2. The Union of Prosperous Farmers and Fishermen of Indonesia (PPNSI)
3. The National Union of Farmers (STN)
4. The Union of Rural Youth for Democracy (SPDD)
5. People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KRKP)
6. Bina Desa Secretariat (SBD)
7. Bina Swadaya
8. Farmers Initiatives for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy (FIELD)
9. Institute for Global Justice (IGJ)

Support organizations:
VOICE, Dhaka – Bangladesh
LOKOJ Institute, Dhaka –Bangladesh
Asia-Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty
Integrated Rural Development Foundation – Philippines
WTO Watch Group (WWG) – Pakistan
Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG) – Pakistan
SEWA – Nepal
Coastal Development Partnership (CDP) – Bangladesh

Contact address:

IGJ: Jalan Diponegoro 9, Jakarta 10310,
Tel. 31931153 Fax. 391 3956;
email: igj@globaljust.org;
Contact Person: Bonnie Setiawan

and

FSPI: Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan
Tel. 7991890, Fax. 7993426;
email: fspi@cbn.net.id;
Contact Person: Achmad Ya’kub

International Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in Asia

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) invites you to participate in the international conference on “Agricultural and Rural Development in Asia: Ideas, Paradigms, and Policies Three Decades After”

It will be held on 10-11 November 2005 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Makati City, Philippines.

This milestone event marks the beginning of the celebration of SEARCA’s 40th Anniversary in November 2006.

Visit the conference website

The “G-Guide” Groupings In The WTO Agriculture Negotiations

The “G-Guide” Groupings In The WTO Agriculture Negotiations
by Jacques Chai Chomthongdi* from FOCUS ON TRADE NUMBER 111, August 2005

G20: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The G20 currently comprises 19 developing country members of the WTO. Led by Brazil and India, the G20 has become one of the most important groupings in the WTO negotiation since the Cancun ministerial in 2003. The group has recently proposed a compromise formula for tariff reduction (middle ground between the Swiss and Uruguay round approach), which has been widely accepted as a basis for further negotiation. While arguing for the limited use of “sensitive products” (a mechanism which would mainly benefit developed countries), the group is more supportive to the “special products” (SPs) and “special safeguard mechanism” (SSM) favoured by the G33. The group has an offensive interest in reviewing domestic supports, especially on the use of the Blue Box where the group is the main driver of the review process to ensure that payments under this provision are less trade distorting than AMS* measures, and on the Green Box where it wants to see new disciplines to avoid box shifting. On export competition, the group has proposed a five-year deadline for eliminating all subsidies. (*Aggregate Measurement of Support: support measures that need to be reduced under the AoA, known as the Amber Box.)

G33: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, China, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Saint Kits and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The G33, or known as “friends of special products” is understood to comprise of 42 countries. On the tariff reduction formula, the group is opposing the harmonization of tariffs across countries, and insisting on taking into account the different tariff structures of developing countries. The G33 is the main proponent of SPs and SSM (see G20 above). On SPs, it insists on self-selection on the basis of the indicators developed. On SSM, it proposes that this mechanism should be open to all developing countries for all agricultural products. Moreover, the SSM should be automatically triggered by either import surges or prices falls. The group is also very vocal on rejecting the developed countries’ proposal of cutting de minimis provision allowed for developing countries.

Cairns Group: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.

The group comprises of traditionally agriculture exporting countries. The Cairns Group has an obvious offensive interest in market access. It seeks harmonisation of import tariff across WTO members, and, like the US, views the G20 proposals as “lacking ambition”. The Cairns Group would like to limit as far as possible the sensitive products, but the group is divided on the SPs & SSM, which is also the case regarding the issue of trade distorting domestic support, where some members are significant users of the Amber Box. Concerning the Blue Box, Green Box, and export competition, it shares a similar offensive position as the G20. That means the group is seeking restrictions in subsidies predominantly used by developed countries.

G10: Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Republic of Korea, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Norway and Switzerland.

This is the group of ten countries with the most defensive interest in the agriculture negotiation. It opposes the G20 formula, particularly the tariff capping element. It argues for a free determination of products to be designated as sensitive. The G10 also has strong defensive position regarding domestic support. Like the EU, it is not interested in expanding criteria, but wants to maintain the status quo of the Blue Box. Also, it opposes the proposal to review and clarify criteria for the Green Box. As for export competition, the G10 wants a long time frame for the elimination of export subsidies. Moreover, very much like the EU, it links this particular issue to outcomes in other areas of negotiation such as NAMA and Services.

African Union/Group, ACP, least-developed countries: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia. Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Fiji, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

This grouping, also known as the G90, has 64 WTO member countries. Although members of the group do not share all positions in the negotiations, the most crucial and common concern of the group is the preference erosion, which is related to all three pillars of the agriculture negotiation. Many of the countries in the group are very dependant on certain Northern markets for their agriculture exports due to the existing preferential schemes. Countries in the G90 want to see specific and concrete solutions to the problems of preference erosion. Many suggest that preferences should be maintained until such time as all domestic and export subsidies are removed that affect their commodities.

United States
While having a very offensive position on market access, the US adopts almost an opposite approach on domestic support. It views the G20 formula proposal as not ambitious enough, and emphasizes the limited scope and flexibility of sensitive products. Plus, it strongly opposes SSM by arguing the duplication with SPs. At the same time, it does not want to see changes to the Green Box status quo. The US is the main proponent for the expansion of the Blue Box criteria, which would allow for its counter cyclical payments to continue and expand. The US is the main user of export credits and food aid schemes to deal with its over supply of agriculture products. Thus, it has adopted a defensive position in export competition in the aspects linked to these two elements.

European Union
The EU has been taking a rather defensive approach in the market access negotiations. Although accepting the G20 proposal as a starting point, it criticises the formula as too ambitious. However, unlike the G10, the EU also has offensive interest in accessing other countries’ markets. At the same time as it argues for a flexible use of sensitive products, it exerts pressure on developing countries to restrict the flexibility regarding SPs & SSM. On domestic support, the EU wants to maintain the status quo in both the Blue Box and Green Box and opposes the review proposals. It has a very sensitive defensive interest in the export competition. It argues for a long time frame for the elimination of export subsidies, and hasn’t so far given any end date for these subsidies. Plus, it has put forth several pre-conditions in order to achieve this elimination, including the ambitious liberalization in other areas such as non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services (GATS).

* Jacques Chai Chomthongdi works with Focus on the Global South and is based in Geneva.

African Civil Society Declaration on the Hongkong WTO

Declaration of African Civil Society on the Road to 6th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong

From the 16-19 of August, 2005, organisations of civil society from across Africa, comprising trade unions, farmers organisations, women’s organisations, faith-based organisations and non-governmental organisations, met in Accra under the umbrella of the Africa Trade Network to deliberate upon the challenges posed to African countries in the on-going negotiations at the WTO, particularly in the preparations for the December Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. We adopted the following conclusions and demands.

We affirm as primary our right to pursue autonomously determined policies for the development of our economies, and to fulfil the social and human rights and livelihood needs of our people. Over the past two decades, this right has been severely undermined by external agencies like the World Bank and IMF. The policies of economic liberalisation and deregulation imposed by these agencies has led to serious economic collapse and social and environmental stress. An attempt is being made to continue this process in even more severe forms in the WTO.

It is four years since the launch of the WTO much-touted Doha “development” agenda. In that period there has been no progress in tackling the developmental concerns of African and other developing countries which were proclaimed as pivotal to the success of the Doha agenda. The powerful members of the WTO have frustrated all attempts at redressing the fundamental imbalances of the WTO regime which have contributed to wreak havoc upon African and other developing country economies and their people. Instead they have persisted with their attempts to impose the needs of their own economies and corporate interests on the rest of the world.

Two years after the resistance of developing country governments to this situation, culminated in the dramatic collapse of the 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancun, the arrongance and double-standards of the powerful still remains the characteristic pattern of the WTO negotiations. As is evident from their proposals, the rich and powerful industrialised countries of the WTO continue to pressurise African and other developing countries to undertake further and deeper liberalisation commitments in their industrial, agricultural and services sectors, and lock them permanently into the system. At the same time, the developed countries remain intent on maintaining their advantages and protection.

As the Hong-Kong Ministerial approaches, these countries are set to come under even more intense pressures, and will be subject even more intensely to the manipulative, untransparent and undemocratic methods always employed by the developed countries to get their way.

We reject these attempts to undermine the policy autonomy of our countries, and cause further calamity to our economic development, and the fulfilment of our social rights. In furtherance of this, we state the following.

Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)
Africa’s industries have been devastated by two decades of World Bank/IMF imposed policies of trade liberalisation. Negotiations in NAMA will make this worse if the developed countries succeed in imposing drastic reductions in tariffs, as well as the restrictions of the levels to which African and other developing countries can in future raise tariffs. This will remove tariff policy as an important tool of industrial development, at a time when many other policy tools have already been removed under the agreements in the WTO.

We therefore demand that African countries should not accept and they must not be pressured into accepting the proposals on tariff being promoted by the advanced industrial countries. Instead they must be allowed to determine the definition and employment of tariff instruments and related policies.

Agriculture
Agriculture is central to the food security, rural development and livelihood needs in African countries. In the on-going negotiations African and other developing countries face the danger of being forced to open their markets to agricultural exports from the developed countries while the latter continue to protect theirs. Worse, the African and other developing countries will be exposed to the unfair subsidies of the developed countries, with artificially cheapened products being dumped in their markets, their own farmers displaced, and their livelihoods disrupted.

We demand that African countries must not undertake any further reduction in their tariffs for agricultural products; and they must also not bind their tariffs at current levels. In addition, they must have the right to use measures to further strengthen their ability to protect their domestic producers as they judge necessary, including the special safeguard mechanism and the right to desginate special products.. At the same time, the developed countries must eliminate all their subsidies which enable them to dump artificially cheap products in our markets and in global markets, and devastate our economies.

Services
Services are crucial for our economic development. In addition, services, especially essential services like health, education, water, are fundamental rights, the access to which must be guaranteed to all. IMF and World Banks imposed policies of liberalisation and deregulation have already transformed some of these essential services into operations for profit, and taken them out of the reach of the vast majority of the citizens in African countries. At the same time, deregulation and liberalisation have placed services in the hands of private mainly foreign, providers, and have made them subject to externally driven economic considerations, thereby undermining their role in the development of an integrated domestic economy.

The developed countries seek to further entrench this process by pressurising African and other developing countries to open up more services sectors, and commit these under the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

We call on our governments not to accede to the request of the developed countries for further liberalisation; and furthermore, not be coerced into committing their existing liberalisation undertaken under IMF/World Bank pressure, as this will entrench them in the WTO and make them irreversible.

S&D, and Implementation Issues
The proposals by African and other developing countries to strengthen their right to special and differential treatment within WTO rules, as well as to resolve the problems of implementation with the existing agreements have been effectively marginalised. These issues are on the verge of disappearing from the Doha work programme. We demand the re-instatement of these essential development issues to the fore-front of the WTO negotiations.

EPA negotiations, and WTO compatibility
The developed countries, particularly the US and EU, have resorted to bilateral and regional trade agreements with other developing countries to attain the objectives that they have not been able to attain in the WTO. In the context of the EPA negotiations, the European Union is attempting to impose the so-called Singapore issues on African countries, and to get these countries to grant market access to European goods and services far beyond the WTO requirements, and undermine Africa’s economies and their efforts at regional integration.

We endorse the position of the Africa Ministers of Trade in Cairo in relations to the EPA negotiations. In the context of the WTO negotiations, we support the demand for the amendment of Article XXIV of the GATT to remove the reciprocity requirements in trade agremements between developed and developing countries members, including between African countries and the EU.

Process
African countries are further disadvantaged in the on-going negotiations by the untransparent and undemocratic methods and processes being used, such as mini-ministerial meetings and meetings of small-groups of countries, from which African countries are excluded. These methods and processes have intensified and will continue to intensify as the developed countries attempt to resolve controversial issues in their favour ahead of Hong Kong. We call on African governments to reject the outcomes of any meetings in which they have not participated. We demand that the processes of the WTO must be made democratic, transparent, inclusive and accountable.

Furthermore, in view of the persistent attempts by the major powers to divide African and other developing countries and undermine their unity, we urge our governments to strengthen their unity in the spirt of Cancun, and build upon their existing alliances.

Above all, we call on our governments to ensure that their national positions and mandates for the Hong Kong ministerial are elaborated through national debates and discussions with the participation of people’s organisations, as well as national parliaments

We call on all civil society and people’s organisation to be firm in their demands on our governments to protect and promote the interests of all people at all times and at all costs.

Open Letter to Heads of Nations and WTO Negotiators

Pls. cut and paste this letter and email or post it to as many people as you can. This is an Open Letter to Heads of Nations/Countires and WTO Negotiators. at the end of the letter pls make space where the following information Name, Designation And Organization, Address, Signature can be filled out by recipients.

AN OPEN LETTER TO OUR PRESIDENT and WTO AGRICULTURAL NEGOTIATORS

We, leaders and members of farmers’ groups all over the country, are concerned about the on-going negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO), leading up to its 6th Ministerial Conference in Hongkong in December.

We are fully aware that rapid agricultural trade liberalization, as a result of fulfilling our commitments to GATT-WTO-AoA, have led to massive dumping of cheap agricultural imports from developed countries and their transnational corporations. This has destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers and agricultural workers. With no alternative sources of income, our people have become poorer. Furthermore, increasing reliance on imports are threatening our country’s ability to produce our people’s staple food.

As the government re-commits itself to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly that of ending extreme poverty (Goal 1) and promoting just and fair trade (Goal 8) , we call on our President and our WTO negotiators to :

1. formulate policies that will protect the small farmers and minimize debilitating effects of WTO agricultural policies
2. work for the elimination for trade distorting domestic support measures and export subsidies of developed countries
3. calibrate market access and tariff reforms in consideration of the people’s agricultural conditions
4. ensure that our country has meaningful access to special products (SPs) we have selected on grounds of food and livelihood security and rural development The principle of SPs should be an integral part of a new, and subsequent rounds of negotiations.
5. ensure that our country has access to a special safeguard mechanism which is: easy to implement, automatically triggered (both in terms of price and volumes), open to all agricultural products and under which both duties and quantitative restrictions could apply
6. refuse liberalization of basic services such as water, electricity under the GATS.
7. refuse liberalization of fisheries sector under the Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA).
8. protect farmers’ rights to control seeds
9. ensure participation of civil society leaders in task forces and committees engaged by governments in trade policy formulation and reviews

MAKE GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE FAIR AND JUST!
PROTECT FARMERS’RIGHTS ! ENSURE FARMERS’WELFARE!

The Colombo Declaration

The Colombo Declaration
“10 Years is Enough—No Deal at the WTO Hong Kong
Ministerial Meeting!”


Declaration of the Organizations, Movements and Individuals Gathered for the Asian Strategy Meeting on the World Trade Organization, Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 6-7, 2005

From December 13 to 18, 2005, the World Trade Organization’s Sixth Ministerial Meeting will take place in Hong Kong. This event will have massive consequences. Either the WTO finally gets consolidated as the prime mechanism of global trade liberalization, or it unravels a third time, possibly crippling permanently its usefulness as an institution for the promotion of the interests of Northern transnational corporations (TNCs).

Dismal Decade

That the WTO is suffering a deep crisis of legitimacy and credibility as it marks its 10th year of existence comes as no surprise to us in Asia. When it was founded in 1995, it was sold to developing and least developed countries as an institution that would bring about growth, reduce global poverty, and decrease income inequality by expanding free trade. A decade later, the evidence is undeniable that the WTO has brought about exactly the opposite effects.

– The Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) has proved to be nothing but a gigantic dumping mechanism for cheap subsidized grain and foodstuffs from the United States and the European Union on the agricultural markets of developing and least developed countries’, destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of farmers and agricultural workers and provoking the suicide of many of them and their dependents.
– The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement has functioned to rob our communities of their collective right to resources, seeds, indigenous knowledge and even life itself, and to thwart development by allowing transnational corporations to monopolize technological innovations throughout the whole range of industries. It has seriously undermined people’s food sovereignty. By putting corporate profits above public health concerns, TRIPs has facilitated a public health crisis in the form of HIV-AIDS that has drastically setback many parts of Asia as well as Africa.
– The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), with its central principle of “national treatment” providing foreign investors equal rights as national actors, is proving to be an extraordinarily powerful tool for TNC entry into and control of the service sector. This situation is particularly acute for developing and least developed countries which accounts for more than 50% of their gross domestic product. Especially threatened are water, electricity, telecommunications, health, educational and other essential services that necessitate public generation and delivery systems in order to assure all citizens equitable access to them. GATS will lead to the shrinking of the public sector, threatening national sovereignty and provoking serious social unrest.
Although it claims to provide potential benefits to LDCs, the GATS Mode 4 (the movement of natural persons) carries a big risk of allowing big business control of the movement of people, resulting in the trampling of the rights of migrant workers.
.WTO-mandated liberalization and WTO-sanctioned dumping have resulted in job losses and welfare erosion across the board, but the brunt of their negative impacts have fallen on women, who make up more than half of the work force in agriculture, industry, and services in many countries but receive lower remuneration, are subjected to worse working conditions, are less protected by labor and human rights codes, and face greater job insecurity than men. Indeed large numbers experience outright exclusion from the labor force, leading to the forced-migration of many. Privatization of basic services also increases the burden of social reproduction for women.

WTO rules also accelerate the marginalization of already vulnerable groups such as dalits and indigenous people who now comprise a significant number of the poor and hungry.

The Anti-Development July Framework Agreement

In a stupendous display of cynicism, the trade superpowers have labeled the current round of trade negotiations the “Doha Development Round.” Yet there is nothing in the Doha Agenda that promotes development. In fact, everything in the so-called “July Framework Agreement” that serves as the basic text to conclude the current round is profoundly anti-development:

-The framework on agriculture is designed to maintain or expand such mechanisms of massive subsidization for Northern agricultural interest such as the “Green Box” or the “Blue Box” while demanding market access to Southern agricultural markets through a new round of steep tariffs cuts, if not outright elimination of tariffs.

– The framework for non-agricultural market access (NAMA) aims to radically bring down and bind industrial and manufacturing tariffs to allow TNC products to flood Southern markets, resulting in unemployment and contractualization, as well as deindustrialization and the inability of developing and least developed countries to use trade policy as an instrument of industrialization. It will also result in greater hardship for already suffering fisherfolk, particularly those in tsunami-ravaged countries, whose livelihoods will be further eroded by NAMA’s proposed liberalization of fisheries.

– The July Framework relegates to the backburner the principal concerns of developing and least developed countries, which are development, the institutionalization of Special and Differential Treatment and addressing problems associated with the high cost of implementing previous liberalization commitments,

People’s Resistance and Corporate Response

Not surprisingly, the pro-corporate agenda of the WTO has provoked massive resistance over the last 10 years. In Seattle in December 1999, the combination of the refusal of developing and least developed countries to rubberstamp a new round of liberalization and massive anti-WTO mobilization by global civil society brought about the collapse of the third ministerial meeting. In Cancun in September 2003, resistance by developing and least developed countries organized into the G-20, G-33, and G-90, where the least developed countries played a critical leadership role, combined with civil society demonstrations and actions inside and outside the Cancun Convention Center that led to the collapse of the fifth ministerial.

To salvage the WTO as an instrument of the TNC agenda, the United States and the European Union successfully mounted an institutional coup in July 2004 wherein the WTO General Council came out with a decree that could only legally be issued by a full ministerial meeting: the now notorious July Framework Agreement. This maneuver, however, could only succeed owing to the cooptation of G 20 leaders Brazil and India as full negotiating partners in the so-called Five Interested Parties (FIPs), with the EU and US designating them to “represent” the South. Once again, the big Northern powers deployed divide-and-rule against the South; once again they succeeded. Once again, the Northern elites stoked the ambitions of their Southern counterparts; once again they succeeded in turning them against their people.

Nonetheless, the resort to threat, deception, and cooptation underlines the fact that developing and least developed countries have lost all faith in the possibility of reforming the WTO so that extraordinary methods must be used to bring them on board.

Why No-Deal-in-Hong Kong is the only Viable Strategy

With nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to the July Framework, the developing and least developed countries must resolutely stand their ground and refuse to make the latest concessions demanded by the big trading powers. Global civil society must consistently pressure the governments of the South to reinforce their determination and force them back into line should they, like the governing elites of Brazil and India, falter. In this connection, we demand that governments put the interests of people above that of transnational corporations.

By refusing to give their consent to the pro-TNC agenda in each of the key negotiating areas in the negotiations leading up to the Hong Kong meeting and during the Ministerial itself, the developing country governments have it in their power to stalemate the latest liberalization offensive. This strategy would, of course, be tantamount to preventing a deal from being reached at the sixth ministerial, but, as in Seattle, as in Cancun, no deal is better than a bad deal.

Derailment of the sixth ministerial will not end the threat of free trade to the developing and least developed countries. They will still have to contend with bilateral trade and multilateral trade agreements—the so-called WTO plus agreements—pushed by the US, EU, and Japan. Nevertheless, given the WTO’s centrality in the TNC agenda, a failed ministerial could help bring about a new global power equation marked by more favorable conditions for the achievement of what we consider to be strategic prerequisites for the success of pro-people sustainable development:

– the expulsion of the WTO from the domains of agriculture and fisheries, services and intellectual property rights;

– frustration of the WTO’s aim to de-industrialize the developing countries and least developed countries and make them captive markets for the TNCs;

– and the creation of a trade regime that genuinely promotes pro-people and rights-based sustainable development

In conclusion, we declare our solidarity with peoples and communities fighting back against the WTO and bilateral, regional and multilateral free trade agreements in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other parts of the world.

We call all to participate in activities taking place within the next few months aimed at preventing a deal from being reached at the Hong Kong Ministerial, be these lobbying activities, mass mobilizations, and non-violent direct action. We also urge civil and political movements to mobilize and organize activities and actions designed to pressure national governments to protect the peoples’ interest. We urge everyone to mobilize their co-workers, families and friends and bring them to the “derail-the-ministerial” demonstrations and events in Hong Kong in mid-December. We also call on developed country governments to desist from the tactics of intimidation and, manipulation that they regularly employ in negotiations…

We, workers, organized and un-organized, peasants, dalits, indigenous peoples, fisherfolks, women, students, migrants and other marginalized communities of Asia in solidarity with other peoples of the world will stand at the forefront of the global struggle against the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting.

DUMP THE ANTI-DEVELOPMENT JULY FRAMEWORK!
NO DEAL IN THE HONG KONG MINISTERIAL!
PROTEST AGAINST THE WTO
!