Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec15/08)
15 December 2015
Third World Network
China, India, Indonesia & SA press for outcome on food security,
Published in SUNS #8156 dated 15 December 2015
Nairobi, 14 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - China, India, Indonesia, and South
Africa pressed for an outcome on public stockholding programs for
food security and special safeguard mechanism (SSM) at the WTO Ministerial
Conference here, beginning on Tuesday (15 December) before considering
the deliverables on the export competition pillar for agricultural
products, trade envoys told the SUNS.
The United States, the European Union, Brazil, Australia, and Japan,
however, opposed any outcomes on public stockholding programs for
food security and SSM at the meeting.
The five countries said the Nairobi deliverables in agriculture should
focus on the export competition pillar that includes the elimination
of export subsidies, export credits, food aid, and state-trading enterprises,
according to the people familiar with the meeting.
At a specially convened closed-door meeting of nine countries at Kenyatta
International Conference Center (KICC) at the initiative of Brazil
and the European Union and chaired by the chair for the World Trade
Organization's General Council Ambassador Fernando de Mateo of Mexico,
the two sides remained sharply polarized on what ought to be the outcomes
in the agriculture package.
The chair for Doha agriculture negotiations Ambassador Vangelis Vitalis
of New Zealand was present at the meeting. Trade envoys from the nine
countries - the US, the EU, China, India, Brazil, Australia, Japan,
Indonesia, and South Africa - took part in the meeting to prepare
the ground for their ministers who are expected to discuss the three
issues later, according to a participant familiar with the meeting.
It is significant that the EU and Brazil, the erstwhile rivals in
the Doha agriculture negotiations, took the initiative to convene
the meeting, said another participant.
"There was no progress at the four-hour meeting as participants
remained sharply divided on the elements in the three issues,"
according to the participant who asked not to be quoted.
Prior to the closed-door meeting, trade ministers of the G-33 farm
coalition had held a detailed meeting in which they reiterated "the
importance of agriculture for ensuring food security, livelihood security,
and rural development in developing members, including least-developed
countries (LDCs) and small and vulnerable economies (SVEs) as enshrined
in the Doha and Hong Kong mandates."
The Indonesian trade minister Tom Lembong chaired the G-33 meeting
in which several countries - China, India, the Philippines, and others
- pressed for an outcome on SSM at the meeting at any cost.
In the "face of increased volatility of food productions and
prices on the global market since the food and financial crises in
2008, we underline the importance of protecting the small and resource-poor
producers from market volatilities through public stockholding for
food security purposes and special safeguard mechanism (SSM) in the
developing country members' food security, livelihood security and
rural development strategy," the G-33 ministers said in their
The G-33 members also vowed "to advance negotiations where concrete
progress achieved including focusing on elements of the DDA and with
a view to achieve an outcome that would among others rectify some
of the gross imbalances in the existing WTO rules on agriculture."
The G-33 members expressed deep disappointment that in the Geneva
process, some countries failed to make meaningful progress for convergence,
"despite all the constructive engagement and flexibilities that
have been demonstrated by the G-33 members."
Disagreeing with the assessment of the Doha agriculture negotiations
Chair, Ambassador Vitalis, about the "impasse" on SSM, the
G-33 trade ministers urged members to engage in hard negotiations
based on the Doha ministerial declaration and subsequent declarations.
"Any political will to resolve the impasse must be reflected
through flexibilities in the negotiations," the G-33 maintained.
It warned about the "negative impact of failure to deliver concrete
outcomes in Nairobi on the credibility of the WTO as the negotiating
forum for multilateral trade rules that could address developmental
challenges faced by developing country members."
The G-33 countries underscored the need for "maintaining special
and differential treatment in the areas of export competition."
On the post-Nairobi work program, the G-33 countries issued the strongest
statement yet, saying that "WTO members shall continue seeking
a comprehensive conclusion of the DDA after Nairobi."
The 47-member group called for discussing critical tools for addressing
food security, livelihood security and rural development concerns
in the post-Nairobi work. The WTO members must continue negotiation
on the special products for developing country members.