south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4426, Friday 30 April 1999


Agriculture: Liberalization needs to address socio-economic effects (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: Developing world should submit clear proposals for next Round (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

China: WTO entry is political prize, but economic pain (IPS, Beijing)

Latin America: Jubilee 2000 musters support against debt (IPS, Mexico City)

Bolivia: Defending farmers from cheap Brazilian goods (IPS, La Paz)

Commodities: Central Americans blame Brazil for low coffee prices (IPS, San Jose)

Excerpts from some selected articles:

Agriculture: Liberalization needs to address socio-economic effects

Geneva, 29 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Negotiations for liberalization of agricultural trade should take into account its socio-economic effects on developing countries - such as employment, fall in production, problems of food security and negative effects on income of farmers, food insufficiency -- an expert meeting at UNCTAD has agreed.

The three-day meeting of experts (chaired by Hungary's Sandor Simon), focusing on a range of issues in the mandated negotiations for continuation of the reform process under the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture, saw a greater focus on the problems of developing countries and the development of their agricultural sector that the Uruguay Round negotiations failed to address.

The Uruguay Round negotiations became largely one between the EC (and other Europeans and Japan and Korea) on the one side and the US with the Cairns group on the other, with other developing countries mostly bystanders, fobbed off with non-operationalised provisions about special and differential treatment.

In the information exchange process at the WTO, several of the developing countries have come up with issues about their "non-trade" concerns like food security, the "multi-functional" nature of agriculture and various elements of state support for agricultural development.

Trade: Developing world should submit clear proposals for next Round

Geneva, 29 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- A negotiating agenda for the trade negotiations likely to be launched at Seattle could be designed to become a "thematic" or "development round", and developing countries need to formulate and submit clear proposals for a positive agenda before August, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero has said.

In opening an expert meeting this week on agricultural trade, Ricupero stressed that it was an opportune time to prepare for the agricultural negotiations to be initiated at the Seattle WTO ministerial meeting. Between now and Seattle, he said, the negotiating agenda would be designed for what could be a "thematic" round or "development round". It was therefore crucial that in the coming months, issues relevant to developing countries need to be formulated into proposals for a positive negotiating agenda to be submitted to the WTO General Council before August, Ricupero said.

Underscoring the importance of the agriculture sector in developing countries (30% of GDP and 70% of labour force in low-income countries), Ricupero said it was hence necessary to pay close attention to the development impact of agricultural reform in the forthcoming negotiations. The Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on LDCs and net food importing countries had not led to any tangible benefits, and it was necessary to translate the decision into operational commitments.

There was also need to pay attention to the dominant role of TNCs in the world wide production, marketing and distribution of some agricultural products. This role has sometimes held back the expansion of agricultural exports of developing countries, particularly those with high-retained added value.

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