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May 23, 2008 - International Trade News

Global Sugar Alliance WTO Communiqué - The Doha Round can Help Improve Food and Bio-fuel Security

Communiqué: Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform & Liberalization

The WTO Doha Round negotiations are entering a critical phase if they are to be brought to a conclusion this year. The concern of the Global Sugar Alliance is to ensure that the level of ambition is as high as envisaged in the original Doha negotiating mandate, with agreement for substantial reductions in subsidies and meaningful access improvements for all agricultural commodities, including sugar.

Heavily protected farm groups in the world’s richest economies, and many food-importing countries continue to lobby for restricted imports. Their call for protection, failing to address trade distortions in global markets, raises the cost of basic food products to consumers.

The Global Sugar Alliance urges WTO Members to reach an agreement that will ensure world trade in all agricultural products flows freely.

Opening markets and reducing subsidies for sugar and other agricultural products will help:

  • stimulate the development of a bio-fuels market, easing climate change pressures
  • ease demand for grains and cereals, less efficient fuel sources in bio-fuel production
  • make the major food crops available to meet the world’s increasing food needs.

The global food crisis is adding urgency to the importance of reaching a WTO outcome this year:

  • “Alongside other efforts by governments and international organisations, a WTO deal could help soften the impact of high prices by tackling the systemic distortions in the international market for food” (Pascal Lamy).

While many first world farmers have alternatives available to them, the same is not true for farmers in many developing countries. It is important that WTO members remain committed to the Doha Development Round’s original mandate and agree to the creation of significant and worthwhile new market access opportunities.

New market access opportunities must not be reduced further by embedding artifices and flexibilities designed to protect first world farmers in a Doha Round agreement on agriculture. The developing world must be given the opportunity to compete.

A worthwhile WTO agreement will:

  • create opportunities to feed the world’s population – improving food security for consumers, regardless of the impact of climatic events on domestic food production
  • help secure strong environmental outcomes – encouraging the production of low cost environmentally sustainable renewable energy, and freeing important crops for food production
  • meet the special and differential needs of developing countries – enabling them to meet the needs of resource-poor, vulnerable and small-scale farmers.

As the Doha Round moves into its final phases, Global Sugar Alliance members are united in their call for:

  • the creation of worthwhile new market access opportunities, with no exceptions
  • major developed country use of the Sensitive Product category should be limited, and, if used, must create new market access opportunities by significant expansion of tariff quotas as compensation
  • Partial Designation rules designed to reduce the calculation of domestic consumption must be limited in their application to a specific group of products
  • elimination of the special agricultural safeguard for developed countries
  • elimination of in-quota tariffs
  • tightening of TRQ Administration rules
  • recognition of the special and differential needs of developing countries by addressing their real food security and rural development needs through more ambitious market access gains for Tropical Products, more flexibility for Special Products to address specific vulnerabilities and the application of a tightly specified new special safeguard mechanism.
  • Achieving these objectives is critical if the Doha Development Round is to be considered a success.

Global Alliance for Sugar Trade Reform & Liberalization

South Africa