BHARAT KRISHAK SAMAJ
( FARMERS FORUM INDIA )
Chairman: A-1,Nizamuddin West,
Dr.BAL RAM JAKHAR New Delhi-110013
Governor, Madhya Pradesh Phone:4359508,
Dr.KRISHAN BIR CHAUDHARY
Former Chairman, State Farms Corporation of India
05th April, 2006
My Dear Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director General, WTO
First of all let me complement you to find time out of your busy schedule to discuss with stakeholders in India on WTO negotiations on farm sector.
As a farmer leader I feel that WTO's core motive is to promote the interest of agri-business multinationals at the expense of small and marginal farmers and family farms across the world. I had been to Hong Kong at the time of the WTO ministerial and had the apportunity of working abreast with the Korean farmers and farmers from other parts of the world. I worked for the release of my colleagues who were under unnecessary detention for a long period of time.
Agriculture negotiations should be from the point of view of the farmers and not from the point of view of multinationals and 'economists'.
I have reasons for critisizing the present subsidy regime as large chunks of subsidies and support given in North America and Europe go to agri-business corporations and farmers with large land holdings. All trade experts agree to the fact that subsidies and support are trade distorting as they depress global prices placing the farmers in the developing countries at a disadvantage. Notwithstanding the fact that subsidies are trade distorting, some so-called trade experts and negotiators of the developed world try to justify their misdeeds by categorising subsidies and support as "trade-distorting" and "non trade-distorting". Even WTO sings to this tune of categorisation.
Despite their comitments to reduce subsidies, the developed countries have increased their subsidies to escalated levels. Agri-business corporations and large farmers are strong economic entities and therefore should not need any support. The present subsidy regime is contrary to the general perceptions that strong needs no support.
Farmers do not agree with the jugglery of words in WTO literature like creation of different Boxes- Green, Blue, Amber etc.- and different types of sugar coated formulae.
If your mission is for ensuring free and fair trade you should take urgent steps to phase out all types of subsidies and support to agri-business corporations and farmers with large land holdings in the developed countries. Export subsidies and support are meant for traders and should be phase out immediately.
Next I must point out that small and marginal farmers, particularly in the Third World need to be protected against cheap subsidised imports. The concept of special products (SPs) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM), now being floated, is inadequate to safeguard the livelihood of farmers. These mechanisms will invite unnecessary complications. In lieu of these new concepts I would suggest that the countries be given the option to apply quantitative restrictions (QRs) on imports, whenever needed, to protect the livelihood of farmers.
Agriculture is not only for trade, its a way of life in the developing countries. European Union accepts this and says that agriculture is multi-functional. I wonder why the European Union should not come out openly and say that it is high time to bring back the mechanism of QRs on imports to protect the farm sector.
Interestingly, WTO has now come to decide what type of food should be consume by the people which may be against the national and cultural habits and prove to be hazardous to health and environment. The WTO dispute settlement body has recently given a ruling against European de facto moratorium on GM foods. This ruling amounts to forcing countries to accept food much against their choice.
After making my two submissions regarding phasing out subsidies and support to the rich and allowing countries to impose QRs on imports, I would finally suggest that WTO should focus mainly on the concerns of the producers of primary commodities, the farmers and not for the interests of agri-business multinationals. Fisheries should be discussed under agriculture and not under NAMA for negotiations. WTO should not dictate what food should be consumed by consumers in different countries.
(Krishan Bir Chaudhary)
Date: 05th April , 2006
Bharat Krishak Samaj, (Farmers' Forum India)
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