Fischler calls for political leadership on WTO agricultural talks
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CTA. 2002. Fischler calls for political leadership on WTO agricultural talks. Agritrade, October 2002. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52684
At a meeting of EU, US, Canadian, Australian and Japanese...
At a meeting of EU, US, Canadian, Australian and Japanese agriculture ministers in Nara, Japan, EU Commissioner Fischler called for political leadership to 'reduce trade-distorting domestic support and all forms of export subsidisation, improve market access, provide more favourable treatment to developing countries, take into account non-trade concerns such as the environment, food safety'. He emphasised that 'without an acceptable compromise in the agricultural negotiations, there is little hope for the Doha round', and called for clearer definitions of basic concepts, such as what constitutes trade-distorting domestic support. This was the subject of much discussion at the meeting, particularly with regard to the concept of multifunctionality. Comment: For developing countries such as those in the ACP, agriculture is indeed the key to the Doha Development Round. However, to date both the EU and the USA are showing a certain lack of understanding of the broader implications for ACP countries of the domestic policies being pursued. While emphasising the need to improve market access for developing countries, Commissioner Fischler ignores the fact that for ACP countries this is largely restricted to agricultural products, prices for which in many areas are being driven down by the process of CAP reform within the EU. This begs the question: what is the value of improved market access if prices offered on the EU market are far less remunerative than in the past? EU beef-sector reform has seen the sterling price of southern African beef exports to the UK market fall nearly 30% since 1999. Similarly, while Commissioner Fischler talks of the EU's commitment to reducing trade-distorting support, he ignores the extent to which direct aid-payments shift farmers' supply-side responses, such that at any given price level EU farmers are willing to produce a much higher volume of the product than would be the case without the direct aid-payments. Commissioner Fischler also ignores the extent to which cheaper EU agricultural products arising from CAP reform are fuelling the massive expansion of EU value-added food exports. Many of the simpler value-added food product exports are destined for ACP markets where they could undermine the emergence of simple agro-processing enterprises.