Civil Society Organisations Denounce EC’s Push for Anti-Development “Complementary Approaches” in GATS Negotiations

22 September 2005

At 6pm today, an informal meeting on “complementary approaches” will take place in the WTO.

Civil society organisations are astonished and appalled by the underhand co-ordinated attempt from the EC, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Korea and Taiwan to change, mid-way in the negotiations, the negotiating format all WTO members had agreed to prior to the commencement of the GATS negotiations. These changes suggested by EC et al in their proposals of 13 September on “complementary approaches” will subvert the more flexible request-offer negotiating approach WTO members had agreed upon.

The GATS currently allows countries to open up only those sectors governments deem ready for liberalisation. EC et al are suggesting that countries take on mandatory liberalisation in a certain percentage of services sectors, for which they have tabled requests. Therefore, even if their economies are not ready, all developing countries, including LDCs, will be forced to commit a significant number of commercially-important sectors to liberalisation and to deepen that liberalisation by removing restrictions on market access and national treatment.

Continue reading Civil Society Organisations Denounce EC’s Push for Anti-Development “Complementary Approaches” in GATS Negotiations

Assessment of the state-of-play in the Doha negotiations as the WTO goes on summer recess

Executive summary

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) traditionally suspends most of its activities during August with negotiators taking a month-long summer break. As the Doha Round negotiations are enmeshed in gridlock, the recess this year will hopefully also be a time of reflection. The WTO General Council (GC) meeting of 27 and 29 July 2005, completed its mid-year assessment of the Doha Round negotiations with sombre acknowledgement of hardly any progress in the on-going negotiations. The sombre mood at the GC meeting was in sharp contrast to last year’s pre-summer recess GC meeting mood of elation when the GC adopted the 2004 July Package Agreement (JPA) that re-established the Doha Round negotiating parameters and re-launched the negotiations following the debacle at the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference that had been held in Cancan, Mexico the previous year.

Outgoing WTO Director General Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi had expected that this year, the pre-summer recess GC meeting would agree on the ‘first approximations’ of a Doha Round deal that would form the basis for establishing full modalities (i.e. the formulae for tariff reduction and percentages and timeframes for tariff and subsidy cuts as well as other critical details that constitute the main ingredients of trade agreements) on different subjects under negotiations. The expectation was that these ‘first approximations’ would be finalised at the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC6) that is scheduled to be held in Hong Kong, China, from 13 to 18 December 2005. This goal had always seemed optimistic given the lack of progress in the negotiations since last year’s JPA.

Continue reading Assessment of the state-of-play in the Doha negotiations as the WTO goes on summer recess

In memoriam, Lee Kyung Hae

Lee’s own story, from a statement he distributed in Geneva and later minutes before his death in Cancun

I am 56 years old, a farmer from South Korea who has strived to solve our problems with the great hope in the ways to organize farmers’ unions. But I have mostly failed, as many other farm leaders elsewhere have failed.

Soon after the Uruguay Round Agreement was sealed, we Korean farmers realized that our destinies are no longer in our own hands. We cannot seem to do anything to stop the waves that have destroyed our communities where we have been settled for hundreds of years. To make myself brave, I have tried to find the real reason and the force behind those waves. And I reached the conclusion, here in front of the gates of the WTO. I am crying out my words to you, that have for so long boiled in my body:

I ask: For whom do you negotiate now?

For the people, or for yourselves?

Stop basing your WTO negotiations on flawed logic and mere diplomatic gestures.

Take agriculture out of the WTO system.

Since (massive importing) we small farmers have never been paid over our production costs.

What would be your emotional reaction if your salary dropped to a half without understanding the reasons?

Farmers who gave up early have gone to urban slums. Others who have tried to escape from the vicious cycle have met bankruptcy due to accumulated debts. For me, I couldn’t do anything but just look around at the vacant houses, old and eroding. Once I went to a house where a farmer abandoned his life by drinking a toxic chemical because of his uncontrollable debts. I could do nothing but listen to the howling of his wife. If you were me, how would you feel?

Widely paved roads lead to large apartments, buildings, and factories in Korea. Those lands paved now were mostly rice paddies built by generations over thousands of years. They provided the daily food and materials in the past. Now the ecological and hydrological functions of paddies are even more crucial. Who will protect our rural vitality, community traditions, amenities, and environment?

Continue reading In memoriam, Lee Kyung Hae

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

Does cheap food hurt hungry people?

New report from Food First traces links between hunger, global trade, and climate change

A new report from Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy states that artificially cheap food on the world market makes hungry people hungrier. The report, entitled “Going Local on a Global Scale: Rethinking Food Trade in the Era of Climate Change, Dumping, and Rural Poverty,” makes the point that 50 percent of the world’s poor and hungry are actually farmers, and argues that addressing global hunger means building small-scale farmers’ access to their own local markets.

read the news report from People’s Food Sovereignty here

read the foodfirst! report here

WTO Will do Little for Farmers Around the World

WTO in Crisis;
Groups Offer Alternative Plan to Protect People’s Food Sovereignty

Halt Agriculture Negotiations in the WTO!
Protect People’s Food Sovereignty!

Creating Crisis

The governments of both developed and developing countries face the choice of sacrificing the rights of the majority of their populations to food sovereignty and decent employment in return for increased corporate access to international markets. As agriculture negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) continue, government negotiators are being pressured to cede the ability of local and national governments to democratically establish their own policies to feed their people and support their farmers in return for increased access to international markets for their main exporters.

read the rest of the statement here

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

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”


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:


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;
Contact Person: Bonnie Setiawan


FSPI: Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan
Tel. 7991890, Fax. 7993426;
Contact Person: Achmad Ya’kub

Upcoming AFA Activities

AFA Execom
Execom Meeting and Commemoration of Death Anniversary of Patriot Lee Kyung Hae
Sept. 9-15, 2005, Seoul Korea

August 12 – Deepening of Understanding of WTO Issues with Pakisama National Council
August 22 – Civil society consultation on WTO, PhilDHRRA Partnership Center
Sept 16 – Dialogue with Philippine government agricultural trade negotiators

August 29 – WTO consultation at Sor Kor Por office

Sept 2 – Civil Society Consultation and Dialogue with Government (venue to be announced)

South Korea
Sept 10-11 Commemoration of Death Anniversary of Patriot Lee Kyung Hae

Regional level
October 3-5 ASEAN-Civil Society Forum, Bangkok, Thailand (venue and program to be announced)
October 6-8 Dialogue with Asian government negotiators (venue and program to be announced)

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 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 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.

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.


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


Empowering small scale women and men farmers in Asia