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How food security and sustainable agriculture will change the post crisis agenda of the WTO
Last modified: 2010-03-16 19:52:48

Recent global developments - food security, climate change and the re-launching of the global economy - are challenging the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. IFAP hosted a session at the WTO Public Forum in Geneva September 30 to examine responses to these challenges. The session brought together farm leaders from across the world, representation from the FAO, Ambassadors to the WTO and Chair of the WTO Committee on Agriculture Special Negotiating Sessions, Mr. David Walker.

Ajay Vashee, IFAP President and Moderator of the session keyed in on new global governance structures that are lifting food and agriculture issues above other policy priorities. ‘' Where does the WTO stand on this and how does it accommodate food security issues and climate change?'' Vashee asked.

Walker was insistent that the Doha Development Round is part of the solution to the challenges, but noted that the ‘'Doha Round will make a further step forward, but it won't finish the job on agriculture''. He added that the ‘'conclusion of the Doha Round is a necessary step before the international community, in the WTO at least, can get to grips with these other issues which are pressing on the agenda.''

The IFAP President noted that he did not expect the WTO to solve climate change or establish a completely food secure world. However, he said that farmers expect that WTO would not block the facilitation of national governments in implementing efforts to address these global challenges, in a nontrade distorting way.

"We would also expect that the WTO rules would ensure all countries are able to maintain their competitiveness in the markets when regulations relating to climate change and food security are applied by individual countries,'' continued Vashee. ‘'In essence, an Agreement on Agriculture should not block development and it is very clear that if we do not address food security and climate change from a trade perspective, comprehensive progress on these fronts is impossible,'' Vashee concluded.

The following considerations emerged from the event:

* How the public investment that will be needed in the farming sector in order to substantially gear-up production can be protected within the WTO framework.
* The impacts of volatility on both agricultural markets and farming inputs and how these can be accommodated under WTO rules.
* The effects of industrial concentration in the agri-food chain and how this changes the rules of the game in terms of trade and investment in agriculture.
* Opportunities for employment creation in the fiscal stimulus packages of many countries could focus on 'green jobs'. Are such ‘green' or ‘natural resource management' criteria compatible with WTO trade rules?
* And finally, the coherence between the WTO and other elements of international governance in agriculture - the IMF, World Bank, FAO, G20 and, critically any successor to the Kyoto protocol on climate change. How will the WTO seek coherence in its conclusions with other global governance structures?


Keywords: How food security and sustainable agriculture will change the post crisis agenda of the WTO, IFAP, Ajay Vashee, WTO Agreement on Agriculture, global economy,
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