Global civil society letter to WTO members regarding public food stockholding programs

Delivery date: 
24 November, 2014

To Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO):

As 118[1] organizations of civil society from countries of the global North and South, representing consumer groups, environmentalists, trade unions, farmers’ groups, women’s organizations, and other development advocates, we are writing to you to convey our deep concern over the process and content of what is currently being negotiated at the WTO on the peace clause related to the G-33 Proposal on  food security and the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as part of the Bali package from December 2013. The Bali package was a highly unfair and unbalanced agreement in the first place. It included a permanent Trade Facilitation Agreement that was extracted by the developed countries while including only best endeavour clauses on the development package for least-developed countries (LDCs). In addition, the Bali package included only a “temporary” peace clause on the G-33 proposal on food security, which was further weighed down by stringent conditionalities.[2] The G-33 proposal was a genuine demand by a number of developing countries, led by India, to change the WTO rules to allow domestic subsidies to producers in developing countries and LDCs for public food stockholding programs, to be given without limit.

The current WTO rules have been identified by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food as a barrier to global food security. Given the impacts of global climate change, food price speculation, and rich country subsidies, it is immoral that developing countries and LDCs are still prevented by WTO rules from investing in domestic small-holder production, which has been repeatedly identified as one of the most important globally-agreed poverty-reduction strategies. This shows the importance of changing the WTO rules to allow these public food stockholding programs for the food security of developing countries and LDCs and how essential these subsidies are for supporting food production, procurement as well as for farmers’ livelihoods.

According to news reports, the United States and India have reached a deal on public stockholdings for food security purposes.  According to the media,[3] the text of the deal between India and the United States will only be released on 24 November 2014 and countries will be required to decide on it two days later, on 26 November 2014.  This process is too rushed for such a vitally important issue and is extremely non-transparent.  A deal reached between two countries does not mean that it suits all other countries.  There should be a proper process to include the views of all other WTO member countries after having given them long enough to carefully and thoroughly consider all the implications for current and future programs of the deal reached between the U.S. and India.

The text of the U.S.-India deal has not yet been released but for it to be adequate for food security it must contain the following provisions:

  • An unambiguous statement that the peace clause lasts until there is a permanent solution.

  •  That any peace clause applies to existing as well as new programs.  The Bali Ministerial Conference Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes Decision is grossly inadequate because it only applies to programs existing as of 7 December 2013. This unnecessary restriction punishes those who did not have programs in place at the time they were asked to rapidly agree to this Decision. Many other developing countries and LDCs may want to have these programs in future, for example when the global financial crisis is over and so they are able to afford them.  It is very unfair that the Decision does not allow them to start these programs by using the peace clause in the future.

  • None of the onerous and inappropriate conditions on the peace clause that were in the Bali Decision, including those identified in our previous letter of 20 November 2013, which was endorsed by more than 230 civil society groups globally.[4]

  • A requirement that the permanent solution should be quickly agreed with a satisfactory permanent solution by June 2015. From our perspective, the permanent solution must allow subsidies to producers for supporting public food programs as part of the Green Box that can be used by developing countries and LDCs without conditions and without limits. This is important because the current system of calculating subsidies based on 1986-88 reference prices would make almost any government purchase from farmers at today’s price a violation of WTO rules by wrongly magnifying the subsidy. Therefore the permanent solution must also correct the outdated reference price date and base the calculation of subsidies on current global prices.  

    We therefore urge you to ensure that developing countries’ and LDCs’ interests are not sacrificed in the current negotiations and at the special General Council meeting on 26 November 2014 in order to clear the path for the TFA. Crucial development issues in developing countries and LDCs such as food security and farmers livelihoods must be addressed to their satisfaction if the Doha Development Agenda is to truly be a development round of negotiations at the WTO. A peace clause and committed accelerated work program on a permanent solution as outlined above needs to be agreed.

    Signed by

    International and Regional Organizations and Networks

1

LDC Watch

LDC Watch is a global alliance of national, regional and international civil society organisations (CSOs), networks and movements based in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

2

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)

The IUF is currently composed of 385 trade unions in 123 countries representing a combined representational membership of over 12 million workers (including a financial membership of 2.6 million). It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

3

South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

An alliance to fight against poverty and injustice in South Asia comprising journalists, academics, trade unionists, human rights activists, NGOs and other civil society actors across the region.

4

Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)

PANG is a Pacific regional network promoting economic justice in globalisation with specific attention to:1) Accountability and transparency in economic and trade policy processes, 2) Poverty eradication, 3) Equitable development and sustainable livelihoods (opportunity, access, impact) and 4) Food sovereignty and environmental sustainability.

5

Third World Network (TWN)

Third World Network (TWN) is an independent non-profit international network of organisations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, developing countries and North-South affairs.

6

Third World Network (TWN) Africa

TWN-Africa co-ordinates the Africa Trade Network which was established in 1998 by TWN-Africa, and has over 25 members from 15 countries in Africa.

7

ACP Civil Society Forum

The Forum is a coalition of 80 not-for-profit organisations working on issues relating to ACP-EU development cooperation. It seeks to cater for the diverse range civil society development issues within the wide geographic coverage of the ACP group.

 National Organization

8

Australian Fair Trade and investment Network

Australia

9

Fórum das Organizações Não Governamentais Angolanas (FONGA)

Angola

10

Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Centre (GARDC)

Antigua and Barbuda

11

Civil Society Bahamas

Bahamas

12

Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD)

Bangladesh

13

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)

Bangladesh

14

Intergrated community and industrial development in Bangladesh (INCIDIN)

Bangladesh

15

Barbados Association of Non Governmental Organizations

Barbados

16

Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology

Belize

17

Groupe de Recherche et d'Action pour la  Promotion de l'Agriculture et du Développement (GRAPAD)

Benin Republic

18

Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO)

Botswana

19

Cadre de concertation des OSC pour le suivi du CSLP (CdC/CSLP)

Burkina Faso

20

Civil Society Organization Network for Development (RESOCIDE)

Burkina Faso

21

Action Développement et Intégration Régionale (ADIR)

Burundi

22

Conseil des ONG Agrees du Cameroun (CONGAC )

Cameroon

23

Council of Canadians

Canada

24

National Farmers Union

Canada

25

Association Commerciale, Agricole, Industriel et du Service (ACAISA)

Cape Verde

26

Conseil Inter ONG En Centrafrique (CIONGCA)

Central African Rep.

27

Centre d’Information et de Liaison des ONG (CILONG)

Chad

28

Conseil de Concertation des ONGs de Développement (CCOD)

Congo

29

Cook Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (CIANGO)

Cook Islands

30

Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País

Cuba

31

Conseil National des ONG de Développement (CNONGD)

D.R. Congo

32

Kalingo Carib Council

Dominica

33

Alianza ONG

Dominican Republic

34

Forum des ONG pour le Développement Durable (FONGDD)

Eq. Guinea

35

Cotonou Task Force

Ethiopia

36

Poverty Action Network in Ethiopia (PANE)

Ethiopia

37

Concertation Nationale Des Organisations paysannes et des Producteurs (CNOP)

Gabon

38

Worldview

Gambia

39

Agricultural Workers Union of TUC

Ghana

40

Inter Agency Group of Development Organizations (IAGDO)

Grenada

41

Federation de Femmes Enterpreneurs et Affairs de la CEDEAO (FEFA)

Guinea

42

Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEI)

Guinea-Bissau

43

Women Across Differences (WAD)

Guyana

44

Programme de Plaidoyer Pour une Intégration Alternative (PPIA)

Haïti

45

All India Union of Forest Workers and People (AIUFWP)

India

46

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)

India

47

FDI Watch

India

48

Initiative for Health & Equity in Society

India

49

Diverse Women for Diversity

India

50

Feminist Learnig Partnerships

India

51

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

India

52

Sunray Harvesters

India

53

Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)

India

54

Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi (RRSS)

India

55

Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON)

India

56

Kirishak Biradari

India

57

Indonesia for Global Justice

Indonesia

58

Farmers Initiative for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy (FIELD)

Indonesia

59

Aliansi Petani Perempuan Indonesia (APPI)

Indonesia

60

Aliansi Petani Indonesia (API)

Indonesia

61

Seknas Jokowi

Indonesia

62

Fairwatch

Italy

63

Alliance Pour la Reconstruction et le Developpement Post-Conflit (ARDPC)

Ivory Coast

64

National Council of NGOs

Kenya

65

Kiribati Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (KANGO)

Kiribati

66

Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN)

Lesotho

67

West African Women Association (WAWA)

Liberia

68

Plate-Forme Nationale des Organisations de la Societe Civile de Madagascar

Madagascar

69

Malawi Economic Justice Network

Malawi

70

Consumers Association of Penang

Malaysia

71

Sahabat Alam Malaysia

Malaysia

72

Foundation pour le Developpment au Sahel (FDS)

Mali

73

Marshall Islands Council of NGOs (MICNGOS)

Marshall Islands

74

Mauritius Trade Union Congress

Mauritius

75

Federation of Democratic Labour Unions

Mauritius

76

Migration and Sustainable Development Alliance

Mauritius

77

Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS)

Mauritius

78

FSM Alliance of NGOs (FANGO)

Micronesia

79

National Forum for Mozambiquan NGOs and CBOs (TEIA)

Mozambique

80

Namibia Non-Governmental Organisations Forum Trust

Namibia

81

Nauru Island Association of NGOs (NIANGO)

Nauru

82

Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN)

Nepal

83

National du Réseau des Ong de Développement et Associations de Défense des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie (RODADDHD)

Niger

84

Association Nigérienne des Scouts de l Environnement du Niger

Nigeria

85

National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS)

Nigeria

86

Niue Island (Umbrella) Association of NGOs (NIUANGO)

Niue

87

Baluchistan Rural Development & Research Society (BRDRS)

Pakistan

88

Institute for Development Initiatives (IDI)

Pakistan

89

NOOR

Pakistan

90

Creed Alliance

Pakistan

91

Melanesian NGO Centre for Leadership (MNCL)

Papua New Guinea

92

Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS)

Philippines

93

Rwanda Civil Society Platform

Rwanda

94

Samoa Umbrella for Non Governmental Organisation (SUNGO)

Samoa

95

Forum das Ong de São Tomé e Principe (FONG-STP)

Sao Tomé and Principe

96

Plate-forme des acteurs non étatiques pour le suivi de l'Accord de Cotonou au Sénégal

Senegal

97

Liaison Unit of the non-governmental organisations of Seychelles -(LUNGOS)

Seychelles

98

Civil Society Movement of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

99

Development Service Exchange (DSE)

Solomon Islands

100

Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute - (SEATINI) - South Africa Chapter

South Africa

101

South African NGO Council (SANGOCO)

South Africa

102

Iyanola (St.Lucia) Council for the Advancement of Rastafari Incorperated (ICAR)

St. Lucia

103

Windward Islands Farmers’ Association (WINFA)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

104

Stichting Projekta

Suriname

105

Council for NGOs (CANGO)

Swaziland

106

Tanzania Association of NGOs

Tanzania

107

The Asia Foundation

Timor-Leste

108

Groupe d'Action et de Reflexion sur l'Environnement et le Développement (GARED)

Togo

109

Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT)

Tonga

110

Grassroots Organisations of Trinidad & Tobago (GOTT)

Trinidad & Tobago

111

Tuvalu Association of NGOs (TANGO)

Tuvalu

112

Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute - (SEATINI)

Uganda

113

Consumer Education Trust

Uganda

114

Food & Water Watch

US

115

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)

US

116

Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO)

Vanuatu

117

Zambia Council for Social Development

Zambia

118

National Association of NGOs (NANGO)

Zimbabwe