Thursday, December 08, 2005

CSO declaration on WTO






December 2, 2005

We, the representatives of farming communities, social movements and the civil society organizations in India, are gathered here in Delhi to demonstrate our solidarity and express our concerns and demands about WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

We welcome all the honorable delegates of this Meeting. This meeting is taking place at a crucial point in time when only ten days is 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 for its record and consideration.

Part – I: For the Leaders of Rich, Developing & Least Developed Countries
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;
Aware that during the last decade, poor nations have been forced to submit to market fundamentalism and have been coerced through various agencies into opening their markets to foreign corporations and foreign produce, privatizing their services and abandoning the measures which helped small domestic companies to compete with overseas competitors;
Aware, that while weaker trading nations have been repeatedly promised that every concession that they make to free trade will be matched by similar concessions by the powerful nations, every time the rich world has responded by breaking almost every promise it has made;
Aware that poverty for many of the world’s people, means death by starvation and disease and that the immediate cause of such starvation and disease is the lack of purchasing power;
Aware that the world’s purchasing power resides in the hands of the people whose need is least, while those who need it most, for such necessities as food, clean water, housing, health and education, have almost none;
Aware that a one percent increases in the share of world exports for each developing region would reduce the number of people in extreme poverty by hundreds of millions;
Aware that consumers in the developing countries lose as a result of trade practices such as subsidized dumping by Northern producers which causes immense turbulence in Southern food markets and undermines local food production;
Aware that WTO policies also harm the non-farming indigenous communities which still depend on commons, pastures, forests and natural waters for their livelihoods and cultures. The WTO-backed extended agriculture in fact encroaches upon the livelihoods of these communities;
Aware that the working population in farming is barely 3 to 4% in the rich countries in contrast to the majority (60-70%) in the poor countries, fair trade in the products of farming would cost the rich world very little in terms of the loss of welfare to its inhabitants, while delivering major potential benefits to poorer nations;
Aware that the rich nations now give their farmers nearly $ 1 billion a day as subsidy which is six and half times of what they give poor nations in the form of aid;
Aware that the rich nations impose much higher tariffs on goods from poor nations than on goods from other rich nations;
Aware that intellectual property rights granted by the WTO over the years have enabled corporations to assert exclusive control over genetic material and plant and animal varieties forcing the poor people of the developing countries and the LDCs to pay them a license free which forms a discriminatory commercial practice and a tariff barrier
Aware that foreign direct investment can some times cost a poor nation more money than it makes;
Noting that since the adoption of the Doha work program there is little evidence of progress on the development of the developing countries as well as the LDCs while on the other hand the rich countries still continue to pressurize poor countries for deeper commitment towards further liberalization in crucial sectors such as agriculture, services and bound tariff rates;
Realizing that due to the lack of progress on the special and differential treatment (STD) and implementation issues the economies of the developing countries and the LDCs will face grave consequences;
Recognizing that we need to devise a system governing the flow of goods around the world which offers a perfect equality of opportunity permitting a significant transfer of wealth from rich to the poor all allowing poorer nations to compete on roughly equal terms, addressing the balance of trade between nations and ensuring that temporary deficits did not turn into permanent debt;
We recognize that Agreement on the Agriculture (AoA) has two fundamental problems:

First, it does not differentiate between the structural characteristics of the agriculture system of rich countries and that of the poor countries despite significant differences between the two. For instance, majority of population in poor countries (60-70%) is engaged in agriculture as against only 3 to 4% in rich countries. Majority of the poor countries have subsistence agriculture system compare to the commercial and market oriented agriculture system in rich countries.
Second, it contains implementations related loopholes that enabled rich countries to increase the subsidies by 9 percent after 1995 instead of reduction in subsidies.
We therefore believe that poor countries should avail this opportunity of AoA Review to rectify and overcome these fundamental problems;

We accordingly urge the rejection of the aforementioned WTO negotiations package that contains, inter alia, the following anti-development elements:

The expansion of Blue Box
‘Sensitive Products’ for rich countries
c) The conditions for the elimination of export subsidies

and to undertake necessary efforts to bring a TRUE DEVELOPMENT agenda on the negotiation table that must include the following:

Immediate end of trade distorting domestic subsidies
Immediate end of export subsidies and export credits in a way that the national reform programs in the rich countries do not impede the elimination of export subsidies
A substantial numbers of special products and special safeguard mechanisms to be treated according to the situation of the respective poor countries
Green box review to eliminate all trade distorting parts of subsidies
Elimination of blue box
Elimination of tariff peaks and tariff escalation
We, the CSO’s, considering the urgency to discuss WTO related issues and to play our vital role as peoples’ representatives in the ongoing negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO);

Call upon the developed countries to stop dumping of their agricultural and industrial products and eliminate all subsidies and export credits, forthwith, from agricultural products;

Urge the developed countries to provide wider market access to exports from developing countries as well as the LDCs and supplement more rapid debt relief with an increased level of new unconditional financial support for the heavily indebted countries;

Call upon various developing countries as well as LDCs to build defensive as well as offensive strategies that promote the interests of the peoples of the developing countries and the LDCs and their economies and to further strengthen the unity and solidarity among the poor nations;

We urge the governments of the South Asian countries to make coordinated efforts and remain firm and committed in articulating and sustaining priorities which promote the interests of their people and their economies.

We assert that the WTO and rich countries must end the undemocratic practices such as mini-ministerial meetings, green room processes, Five Interested Parties (FIPs) etc, and the process should be made transparent and inclusive;

We emphasize that the targets of Millennium Development Goals cannot be met unless the trade distorting subsidies and protection in rich countries are eliminated;

We urge that the rich countries should accept the free flow of semi-skilled and less skilled persons from poor countries;

We urge that rich countries must accept the right of poor countries to protect the food security, livelihood of small farmers, labor rights and local industries;

We also urge that basic needs like education, health and water must not be privatized

We further urge the leaders of developing countries, not to accept any agreement on agriculture that misses out the above-listed critical points;

We emphatically demand that the G-20 should strengthen its relationship with other groups such as G-90, G33 and the LDCs since the rich countries would certainly try to continue their strategy of divide and rule the poor countries in order to strike an unfair deal;

We strongly urge that developing countries should learn from past experiences and must not accept any deal that compromises the interests of poor communities. The EU and the US are likely to strike an informal or formal deal on agriculture (like Blair House in Uruguay Round and Joint Agriculture Statement before Cancun) to impose on other member of WTO before the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting;

We urge the leaders of developing countries, to reject demands of rich countries to compromise on NAMA and GATS in response to reduction in subsidies and tariffs. In fact, poor countries had already agreed on TRIPs and Services during Uruguay Round in response to the promises of subsidies and tariff reduction in rich countries. Such hopes however never materialized;

We urge the leaders of developing countries to also realize their responsibility to represent the vulnerable communities of their countries, such as small farmers and farm workers, in the Doha Round negotiations rather than only taking care of interests of the agri-business;

Hence, we call upon the leaders of developing countries to build defensive as well as offensive strategies that seek to promote the interests of vulnerable communities of the poor countries and to further strengthen the unity and solidarity among the poor nations.

Part – II: For the Government of India
Food is a basic human right and therefore not just like any other commodity. Almost 90% of the agricultural products in the world are consumed domestically and this in practice remains outside international trade. Only 10% of the world agricultural products are traded internationally and not for the 90% consumed domestically.
The participants have proposed that agricultural trade agreements be based on:


Each nation should have the right and obligation to produce basic food for its own population and ensure food sovereignty. All efforts should be made to reduce poverty and eliminate poverty.

ALL subsidies in agriculture provided by developed countries must be immediately removed. Further, all boxes need to be abolished. Till such subsidies are abolished, the government should not enter into any further negotiations.
Restore import protection through quantitative import restrictions or tariffs. This will be an effective measure for India to secure special strategic products and will serve as a special safeguard mechanism to protect livelihoods.
Protect farmers’ income bys state support on products for domestic consumption but not on products for export or products that end up on the world market (and thus function as hidden or indirect dumping of food).
Export subsidies, export credits and credit insurance should be eliminated beyond the period of 180 days. There is a need for an effective system of market regulation and supply management that stops dumping.
Market Access
Market Access needs to be kept out of WTO negotiations till all subsidies in developed countries are removed immediately. In case the developed countries refuse to remove these subsidies, India must bring back quantitative restrictions to protect its agriculture.
In case of imports of agri-products (e.g. soybean) that have depressed the domestic prices (e.g. oilseeds such as mustard), the government should raise bound rates of tariff to the extent that protects the interest of farmers.
All tariff lines should be kept at the bound levels and no reductions should be made at any cost.

July Framework, 2004
July Framework, 2004, is faulty and against the interest of Indian farmers. It provides opportunity to the developed countries to maintain and further increase subsidies. We therefore demand the total rejection of the July Framework by the government.
Non-existent Export Market
Agriculture exports from India are minuscule at present. Further, a very small proportion of Indian farmers are export oriented. Further, the various tariff and non-tariff barriers make it increasingly difficult for Indian agri-products to enter developed country markets. Therefore, the export potential being projected by the proponents of global trade is quite unrealistic. Given the above, any compromise made to gain access to a non-existent market will be detrimental to the interest of farmers. Instead, the need of the hour is to promote sustainable agriculture.
Trade-off at the Cost of Agriculture
Any trade-off in agriculture for service sector or NAMA is totally unacceptable.
Dairy and Fisheries
The dairy sector provides livelihood to millions of farmers across the country and is also crucial for public health and nutrition needs. Therefore, sustained dumping/ cheap imports of dairy products need to be checked immediately by revising the tariff rates and quotas.
Fisheries should be included under AoA rather than NAMA.
Restore protection of fishing industry and encroachment-free fishing territories of individual countries.
White Paper on WTO
Given the numerous reports of the disastrous impact of AoA on the developing countries, the Govt. of India should demand from WTO to publish a White Paper on the impact of 10 years of AoA.
The government should also immediately issue a White Paper on the 10 years of experience of WTO regime in India.
Multilateral Agreement on Hunger
India along with other developing countries should insist on a Multilateral Agreement on Hunger that protects the food security as well as food sovereignty of developing countries.
Seeds & Patents
No patent on life forms. Farmers’ rights in seed production must be protected.
Sustainable Agriculture, Environment
In most cases, modern agriculture in its drive for achieving higher production has been associated with environmentally harmful practices such as use of agri-chemicals and large scale mono cropping. The government of India should ensure that agricultural production and trade are promoted without harming the environment. Sustainable agriculture and other environment-friendly practices should be recognized and supported.

Protection of Indigenous Knowledge and the rights of tribals
Restore indigenous knowledge for future generations. Adopt rich indigenous knowledge in all development activities especially on agriculture. Tribal groups should not be displaced. Their access to forest products should be maintained. The state must also ensure that land reforms targeted toward the landless and tillers must be carried out from the perspective of social justice and fundamental human rights.

No quid pro quos
Trade is the cause for the pauperization of the rural people. Most of our people depend on agriculture and their situation is worsening due to the terms of trade between agriculture and other sectors. Agriculture in India is a lifestyle rather than a trade issue. Further, it is a mean of livelihood for more than 65% of the population of the country, majority of whom are subsistence farmers. Lack of transparency, nature of the discourse on negotiations and closed-door conspiracies in WTO meetings make this anxiety real. The richer nations are doing this to protect their supremacy and their interests in agriculture, which is largely led by multinationals. Hence all items should be negotiated on their merits and the issues facing farmers, agriculture and rural people cannot be bartered for gains in services, manufacturing, technical assistance or financial aid.

Draft circulated by Pascal Lamy for the Hong Kong Ministerial
Pascal Lamy’s draft text released for the upcoming Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), if agreed in Hong Kong, will destroy the livelihoods of peasants, small farmers, landless and indigenous peoples, fisher folk and workers the world over.

Where is the promise of development?

The current round of talks is called the Doha Development Round but the draft Ministerial text makes it clear that there is nothing developmental about this round. The text focuses on opening up developing country markets and sidelines the main demand of developing countries for special and differential treatment (S&D).

The so-called “development package” that Lamy is offering to least-developed countries (LDCs) is little more than a public relations stunt. While stating they will live up to promises made to LDCs on development, the text waters down the S&D provisions and resurrects other valueless provisions which were rejected 2 years ago in Cancun. Lamy tries to cover this up with the offer of ‘Aid for Trade’. This is a ploy to confuse and weaken the resistance of developing countries as the program only goes towards building the capacity of developing countries to implement agreements that they were forced to accept in the first place.

Development for Agri-business not for small farmers

The text on Agriculture reflects the positions of exporting countries and the interests of their agri-business. Despite long standing demands to cut their direct and indirect export subsidies; the tabled proposals are “paper-cuts” that do not change the status quo in favour of developing countries. Instead, what the EU and the US have done is reinforce the imbalance by expanding the Blue Box, which will allow an additional US $5billion of farm support for the US and the maintenance of the undisciplined Green Box, which the European Commission will use for its other subsidies.

The text also does not give any date for an end to export subsidies. Such subsidies, which are largely provided to the biggest producers and their agri-business as opposed to family farm based agriculture, will be allowed to continue unabated.

In return for this, developing countries are expected to fully open their markets through drastic tariff reduction and to cut their remaining, if any, domestic supports. It is impossible to see how this Agreement, which threatens to wipe out peasants and small farmers, can be classified as constituting a ‘development round’.

Deindustrialization and loss of livelihoods

The Non-Agricultural Market Access text has been strongly criticized for its bias towards developed countries as it completely glosses over the wide opposition from least developed and developing countries to the proposals.

The text is a threat to developing countries as the draconian formulas proposed threaten to wipe out their industries and remove any future policy space to determine their own development priorities. Proposals put forward by Caribbean and African delegates have been ignored or sidelined in the draft Ministerial text.

The take-over of services

Of all the proposals, however, the services text proves to be the greatest threat of all. It not only glosses over the opposition to this text, it has completely ignored any of the developing countries strong refusals to it. If endorsed, negotiations in services will be intensified along the path of the “plurilateral approach” which subverts the original flexibilities of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Countries will no longer be able to choose which sectors and how fast they will be liberalized but rather they will be all but forced to enter into sectoral negotiations and give foreign companies equal rights to local suppliers.

Part – III: Role of NGOs in the WTO issues
The members of this august gathering decided that from the signs appearing at various forums it was pretty apparent that the 6th Ministerial Meet at Hong Kong would not be able to achieve its desired outcome and could also land into a partial or complete failure.

Therefore post the 6th Ministerial Meet at Hong Kong, it was decided that

There would be review of what has happened and transpired at the 6th Ministerial Meet at Hong Kong and its future impact on all concerned stakeholders.
To accordingly develop future strategies so as to play an expanded role in the international trading system.
To find a suitable economist who could analyze and critique various papers that emanate out of the World Bank, IMF and other such institutions and bring to the light of the day the real issues
To act as watchdogs, lobbyists and agents of civil society enriching the public dialogue and representing interests not reflected in national government viewpoints and also see and evaluate how government policies impact the peasants, farmers, landless laborers, women, dalits and the marginalised
To mobilize public opinion and be the bridge between state and non-state actors connecting local and global politics
To be change agents offering new viewpoints
To form a forum of parliamentarians under the leadership of Mr. M. D. Mistry - Member of Parliament, who accepted the same, who could put pressure on the government through appropriate methodologies and personnel.
Organised jointly by
South Asian Network for Social & Agricultural Development (SANSAD)

National Centre for Advocacy Studies

Wada Na Todo Abhiyan

List of Participants

Abha Iyengar - SANSAD

Adil - The Hunger Project

Amitabh Behar - National Centre for Advocacy Studies

Anil Singh - SANSAD

Ashok Bharti - NACDOR

Awadesh Kumar - Srijan Lokhit Samiti

B. K. Keayla - National Working Group on Patent Laws

Babu Matthew - ActionAid

Bhaskar Goswami - Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security

Biswajit Dhar - Indian Institute of Foreign Trade

Brijesh Sharma - CECODECON

D. Santosh Kumar - Swadeshi Patrika

Deepak Xavier - CBGA

G. K. Pillai - Ministry of Commerce, Government of India

G. Placid - SAHAYI – Centre for Collective Learning & Action

G. Wakankar - IDMA

Gurinder Kaur - Oxfam Trust

Hans Raj - SAP – India

John Samuel - ActionAid

K. S. Gopal - Centre for Environment Concerns

M. V. Bijulal - Indian Social Institute

Madhusree Banerjee - Oxfam Trust

Narender Kumar - PAIRVI

Nilay Ranjan - One World South Asia

Nupur Khare - Agriculture Today

Paramjeet Bernard - Charkha Development Communication Network

Prakash Gardia - National Centre for Advocacy Studies

R. B. Singh - National Commission on Farmers

Rajul Pant - Srijan Lokhit Samiti

Rakesh K. Singh - SAP – India

Ramesh Kumar - Express Media Service

Ramit Basu - National Social Watch Coalition

Rimi Sen - Amity School of Rural Management

Robin Stevens - SANSAD

Ronald - Centre for Policy Alternatives


Sakina - Voluntary Action Network India

Sanjay Bhatt - Department of Social Work, Delhi University

Shalinder Singh -NAFRE(National Alliance for Right to Education & Equity)

Shiv Kumar - SANSAD

Siddharth Narain - The Hindu

Sunila Singh - National Centre for Advocacy Studies

V. Acharya - SJM Dharmakshetra

Vaibhav Kumar - ICICI Bank

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