Third World Urged To Change Stand On Farm Issues

New Delhi, Nov 10: | Updated: Nov 11 2003, 05:30am hrs
The US-based International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy (IPC) has suggested that the developing countries give up their insistence on special and differential treatment (S&DT) and instead ask for greater market access for their products, elimination of all trade distorting subsidies and reduction in tariff barriers, as such a change of stance can break the current stalemate at the WTO negotiations.

IPC claims that it was not the farm issues that led to collapse of the Cancun talks but the insistence on inclusion of Singapore issues into the agenda which brought about the collapse of the WTO talks. Therefore, it feels that if the developing copuntries can change their stance on farm issues in exchange for other benefits.

With a view to market its concept for reforms in global trade, IPC will be organising a seminar here in collaboration with Indian National Institute of Agriculture from Wednesday. It feels that the Third World will benefit if they can get through the proposal for market access, elimination of trade distorting subsidies and reduction in tariff barriers.

Since many developing countries have become competitive in agriculture now they do not need much protection or exemptions, it says, adding however, to protect developing and the least-developed countries from import surges, IPC suggests special safeguard measures on a limited list of products for these countries.

IPC also argues that many developing countries do not have the means to fund for S&DT measures and hence very few have been able use this facility. It IPC also opines that to maintain some forms of S&DT for all countries as a broader definition of Green Box measures. Investment subsidies and agri input subsidies are allowed under WTO if they are targeted to low income and resource poor farmers, but are termed as temporary measures and not classified under Green Box. However, IPC chairman, Robert L Thompson and its member Dale Hathaway personally feel that the most optimistic end date for the Doha Round is now the end of 2005. There will be a new administration in the US and a new Commission in the EU. There will be a congressional elections in the US in 2006 as well as polls in France and Germany. So if it is not wrapped up in 2005, it will have to wait until 2007.