November 20, 2013
Ranja Sengupta +91 9811368168
temporary Peace Clause
Today, over 270 civil society organizations representing a broad range of civil society groups and global union federations representing hundreds of millions of workers across the world urged Roberto Azevedo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and WTO member states, to take the issue of food security in developing countries as a matter of serious and immediate concern not to render the G-33 proposal on public food stockholding a travesty by asking developing countries to agree to the current text on the peace clause.
To correct imbalance in WTO’s agricultural trade rules the G-33 group of developing countries tabled a proposal on food security that argues that public food programmes for supporting livelihoods of small farmers and food consumption of the poor should be considered part of the “green box” and allowed without limits by changing the existing Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). A matter of urgent concern is that all elements of the G 33 proposal have now been rejected for consideration in Bali and a peace clause (or due restraint clause) on the G-33 proposal is currently the only element being discussed at the WTO. A peace clause means that the use of such subsidies is still illegal but WTO Members will not go to dispute settlement for this period.
Expressing serious concern over recent developments in the negotiations over G 33 proposal, the civil society letter (attached) argued that “take it or leave it” text on the due restraint clause for Bali Ministerial suggested by the Director General, Robeto Azevedo offers a temporary solution effective only for 4 years and does not guarantee that a permanent solution will eventually materialise. Further, the conditionalities in the form of the Anti-Circumvention/ Safeguard clause are very broad and may make it virtually impossible for any developing county to use this provision.
The letter urged, "the global community, including the WTO Director General and the Member States, to address this issue and make changes in the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) that allow developing countries to use such subsidies for public programmes on food to support poor farmers and consumers.
Ranja Sengupta, Senior Researcher TWN states, “Unfortunately the G-33 proposal has found stiff opposition from the developed countries, notably the USA and the EU. Developed countries using WTO rules to neutralize peoples’ right to food”.
Jacques Berthelot, from Solidarite said, “The opposition of developed countries are unjustifiable in the light of existing asymmetries between developed and developing countries. For Instance, in 2010, the poor in India received on average of only 58 kg per person, 3.1 times less than the 182 kg per person of the 80 million beneficiaries of cereals food aid in the USA.” This is also 4.2 times less than the 241 kg for each of the 46.6 million beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamp programme in the USA".