A Call to Action to Social Movements, Mass Organizations and
All Civil Society Groups
October 17, 2005
No Deal in the Hong Kong Ministerial!
WTO Out of Food and Agriculture!
With only two months to go before the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Sixth
Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, pressure is mounting among WTO delegates
to come up with an agreement to save the WTO from the humiliation of yet
another round of failed talks. On October 19-20, WTO members will convene
in Geneva for the General Council (GC) to take stock of the progress in
achieving the so called Doha Development Round. The Doha Round was
launched in November 2001 and most negotiations were expected to be final by
Although current negotiations appear deadlocked in all the main negotiating
areas--agriculture, services and non agricultural market access (NAMA)-there
are serious possibilities that through clever maneuvering and opportunistic
deal making, the trade majors (particularly the US and the EU) with help
from some developing countries (particularly India and Brazil) will attempt
to push through a trade deal that will provide big gains to national and
transnational corporations and highly skilled professionals from developed
and developing countries, but which will prove disastrous to the majority of
the peoples and communities of the world, especially farmers, fisher-folk,
workers, migrants and other vulnerable groups.
Deal-making Through Exclusive Groups, and Divide and Rule
Negotiations are continuing in their usual non-transparent and top down
manner, with countries forging new temporary alliances to suit their
negotiating interests. There is now a new power equation in the
negotiations: the "new QUAD" which consists of the US, EU, Brazil and
India, with Brazil and India putting themselves up as defenders of the
interests of developing countries in all areas of negotiations. Brazil and
India sold out the interests of peoples when accepting the July Framework in
2004 and we fear that the same will happen again.
US and EU disregard for real Special and Differential Treatment and for
taking Implementation Issues seriously show that the WTO does not provide
any scope to safeguard agriculture, services and industry in developing
countries, and are clear examples of why the WTO is not the right venue in
which to negotiate the future of food and agriculture.
The Tasks Before Us
The July Framework has practically eliminated any and all development space
in all the areas being negotiated in the WTO. It is now up to us-social
movements, mass organizations and other civil society organizations--to take
a firm stand against the ongoing negotiations and ensure that our food,
agriculture, health, jobs, natural resources, environment, services,
industries and sovereignty are not bargained away for the profits of a
handful of corporations and elite professionals.
We have to give a clear message to our governments that no deal in Hong Kong
is better than a bad deal, and that the only possibilities ahead of us in
the current negotiations are deals that range from bad to worse.
In specific, we demand that:
- Liberalization and privatization policies pushed through the WTO, and
regional and bilateral agreements must stop.
- There must be no further liberalization of agriculture trade. Tariffs
and other forms of protection against imports at present offer the best ways
to guarantee the ability of peasant farmers to make a living from
agriculture; tariffs must not be lowered, and each country should have the
right to protect its farmers.
- Moving trade distorting subsidies from one box to another only hides
them, but does not actually cut them. This box-swapping to maintain trade
distorting subsidies that benefit agribusiness interests are yet more reason
why we must get the WTO and free trade agreements out of food and
- Countries must have the right to use self-selected domestic criteria
to protect their food and agriculture sectors, and particularly their
peasant and family farmers and agricultural labour. Especially developing
countries should be able to exercise the right to re-impose Quantitative
Restrictions (QRs) in instances of import surges and to protect rural
livelihoods and development.
- The dumping of agricultural products must stop without any preliminary
conditions. Announcement of a schedule for the phase-out of export subsidies
by the EU and US should not be seen as meaningful concessions and should not
serve as a reason for developing countries to give in on other agreements or
to sign any agreement on agriculture in the WTO.
- Developing country governments must not accept Mode 4 concessions as
an incentive to open up their domestic services sectors to further
liberalization, or to provide market access in agriculture or NAMA. Mode 4
allows for services provision through the movement of natural persons across
international borders, and many developing countries are using this as a
bargaining chip to allow businesses from developed countries access into
their own services markets. However, any gains from Mode 4 will only
benefit skilled, white collar professionals and lead to a brain drain from
developing to industrialized countries, while semi and unskilled workers
will be blocked from movement across borders as before.
- In services negotiations, the EU, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Korea
and Taiwan have tabled proposals on "complementary approaches" that call for
obligatory liberalization of services in a specified number of sub-sectors
and with quantitative indicators. In some proposals, countries'
commitments would be "benchmarked" with scores. The proposals are a move to
get developing countries to accelerate and deepen services liberalization
commitments, and take away even the little flexibility that developing
countries have left under the existing GATS framework. While these
proposals have been challenged by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the
Africa Group, Caribbean countries and some ASEAN members, a few developing
countries (such as India) are supporting "benchmarking" in the hope that
they will make gains on market access through mode 4 provisions.
"Benchmarking," "complementary approaches" and all such proposals to
accelerate and deepen services liberalisation must be opposed. Countries
must have the freedom to define policies according to their own specific
structural conditions, with adequate domestic regulations, and legal and
institutional measures to counteract the power of transnational
corporations. This is especially important in the case of LDCs and many
developing countries who have already undertaken unilateral liberalisation
under the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund.
- Negotiations in NAMA must be stopped altogether since the potential
negative impacts of de-industrialization from NAMA agreement are great.
NAMA was never a priority under the Doha Declaration. However, if NAMA
negotiations do continue, current formulas for tariff reduction and tariff
binding in NAMA must be opposed.
- The Pakistan proposal must not be accepted as a compromise formula for
NAMA negotiations since it will not address the problem of
de-industrialization that is likely to arise from NAMA. Developing
countries should not be coerced into binding their remaining tariff lines.
Binding will limit the options for developing countries to nurture their
infant industries and hasten the process of de-industrialization. This is
especially so in LDCs, most of who have already been forced to undertake
unilateral liberalization under the structural adjustment programmes imposed
by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
- Fisheries must be removed from NAMA negotiations, and the WTO should
get out of fisheries altogether.
- Comprehensive assessments of the impacts of past liberalisation on
agriculture, services and industry must be conducted, and measures should to
be taken to counter the adverse effects of liberalisation.
- The LDCs and the G 90* must hold firm and not give in to the demands
of developed countries for market access, "benchmarking," and reduction of
agriculture and industrial tariffs. Those who gain from the current
negotiations are the industries in the major food exporting countries and
those with well developed, strong and high-end service and industrial
- All negotiations and discussions must be fully participatory and
transparent. The Five Interested Parties (FIPs), the "new QUAD" and other
such arbitrary and exclusive groupings must be disbanded. All delegations
must have full freedom to participate in negotiations as they consider fit.
In the coming months, forces in favor of liberalization and privatization
policies will try to get the WTO consolidated as the engine of global trade.
It is our challenge to halt these trends, and to initiate processes to
reverse the current trends of liberalisation and privatization, return to
countries and to peoples the possibilities to protect their food production,
fisheries, public services and industries, and to shift decision making
about economic policies to spaces outside the WTO. The WTO must be crippled
as a mechanism of neo-liberal globalization.
HALT THE WTO NEGOTIATIONS AND STOP THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FURTHER FREE TRADE
WTO OUT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, PUBLIC SERVICES AND OTHER
ESSENTIAL PUBLIC GOODS!
STOP THE DE-INDUSTRALISATION OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES!
* An umbrella body of the African Group, the least developed countries and
the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group
All Nepal Peasants' Association (ANPA), Nepal.
Alliance of Food Sovereignty Campaigns (AFSC), Bangladesh.
Alliance for the Protection of Human Rights and National Resources (ANRHR),
Assembly of the Poor, Thailand.
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).
Awaz Foundation Pakistan: Centre for Development Services, Pakistan.
Bangladesh Krishok FedeBangladesh Sramajibi Kendra (BSK), Bangladesh.
Concern for Children and Environment Nepal (CONCERN), -Nepal
Focus on the Global South, India, Thailand and the Philippines.
Foodfirst Information and Action Network, Belgium.
Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action, India.
Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines.
Friends of the Earth, Uruguay.
Grassroots International, USA.
Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Indonesia.
International Gender and Trade Network, Asia.
International Gender and Trade Network, Switzerland.
Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS), Bangladesh.
Jubilee Kyushu on World Debt and Poverty, Japan.
Karmojibi Nari, Bangladesh.
Kilusang Mangingisda-Pilipinas/Fisherfolk Movement, Philippines.
Kissan Bachao Tehreek Pakistan ( KBTPK), Pakistan.
La Via Campesina.
Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), Sri Lanka.
National Farmers' Assembly, Sri Lanka.
National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), India.
Public Citizen, USA.
Solidaritas Perempuan, (Women's Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia.
Solidarity Africa Network in Action, Kenya.
The Development Group for Alternative Policies, USA.
The Oakland Institute, USA.
The Transnational Institute, Netherlands.
Womyn's Agenda for Change, Cambodia.
World Prout Assembly - USA