The WTO’s Doha Round Will Not Solve the Global Food Crisis – Time for Real Solutions

 Our World Is Not For Sale

Trade Ministers and Agriculture Ministers

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General, United Nations
Jacque Diouf, Director General, FAO
Pascal Lamy, Director General, WTO
Robert Zoellick, President, World Bank
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Angel Gurría, Secretary General, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The WTO’s Doha Round Will Not Solve the Global Food Crisis – Time for Real Solutions

Dear Minister,

The global food system is in crisis. Millions of people can no longer afford or access the food they need, increasing global hunger and malnutrition. The worlds’ governments need to act now. But the answer does not lie in deeper deregulation of food production and trade. We, concerned non-governmental organizations and social movements, urge you to reject the claims by the leaders of the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that concluding the Doha Round is a solution to the current crisis.1

We believe the Doha Round as is currently envisioned will intensify the crisis by making food prices more volatile, increasing developing countries’ dependence on imports, and strengthening the power of multinational agribusiness in food and agricultural markets. Developing countries are likely to lose further policy space in their agriculture sector, which would in turn limit their ability to deal with the current crisis and to strengthen the livelihoods of small producers.

The inability to manage the current food crisis is an illustration of the failure of three decades of market deregulation in agriculture. We need a new model for the trading system that puts development, employment and food security objectives at the centre. We are calling for real solutions that will stabilize food production and distribution to meet the global demand for healthy, adequate, and affordable food. Governments must start to take a long-term view of the challenges facing agriculture. The recent report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development [IAASTD], endorsed by 57 countries, says, “Modern agriculture has brought significant increases in food production. But the benefits have been spread unevenly and have come at an increasingly intolerable price, paid by small-scale farmers, workers, rural communities and the environment.” Support has to be directed at a different model of agriculture that can sustainably meet the needs of a growing population.

The WTO’s Doha Round and other bilateral and regional trade agreements currently under negotiation will not solve the food crisis, for the following reasons:

1. Existing WTO and bilateral and regional trade agreements push across the board liberalization, which worsens volatility of food prices. This leads to increased dependence on international markets and decreased investment in local food production. Trade liberalization has eroded the ability of a number of developing countries to feed themselves, for example, Mexico, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Mali. The removal of tariff barriers has resulted in dumping of heavily subsidized commodities in developing countries, such as Ghana, Kenya, the Philippines, Jamaica and Honduras, while undermining local food production.

Developing countries have turned from net exporters of food to net importers of food.2 Two-thirds of developing countries are net food importers and are extremely vulnerable to volatile world food prices. The current proposals under the Doha Round will increase countries’ dependence on food imports while further eroding their ability to feed their own populations.

2. High food prices provide enormous benefits to transnational agribusinesses and commodity cartels that control the trade in food and agriculture. One of the largest global grain traders, Cargill, announced in April 2008 that its third quarter profits rose 86 percent to US$1.03 billion, in the midst of the global food crisis.3 Bunge saw its profits in the last quarter of 2007 increase by 77 percent compared with the same period in 2006. Archer Daniel Midland’s (ADM’s) profits in 2007 rose by 65 percent.4 The Doha Round will strengthen the position of transnational companies in agricultural markets, who thrive on market deregulation.

3. The Doha negotiations do not tackle the major challenges facing the global food system, which include climate change, natural resource depletion, the quadrupling of oil prices, the lack of competition in world commodity markets, financial speculation and the rapid expansion of unsustainable agrofuels production.

We believe what is needed to solve the food crisis is the following:

1. Governments and communities need to have a range of tools at their disposal to build resilient food and agricultural systems that are ready for the challenges that lie ahead. This includes a greater emphasis on policies that increase food sovereignty, encourage local investment in local markets, support sustainable small-scale farming, safeguard local production from dumping, implement genuine agrarian reform, and allow trade instruments such as quotas and tariffs. Some of these instruments are being proposed by a group of 46 developing countries—known as the G33—in the WTO’s negotiations on Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism.

2. The volatility of agricultural prices must be addressed through national policies and global actions to avert food crises and to ensure small producers a reliable and steady income. Well managed public stocks need to be re-established. Such stocks provide an important buffer against price volatility and food insecurity. Speculation and extremely high prices forced upon consumers by traders and retailers must be controlled. At the WTO, the African group has a long-standing proposal on the need to allow commodityproducing countries to make agreements among themselves in order to stabilize prices. This proposal deserves further attention.

3. Governments should establish safety nets and public distribution systems to prevent widespread hunger. Governments have to provide financial support for the poorest consumers to allow them to eat. Governments must use the maximum of available resources within the State and from the international community.

4. A reform of the food aid system to respond more rapidly and to allow greater flexibility in the delivery of food aid. Instead of dumping surplus agricultural production as “in kind” food aid, donors should provide cash to governments and aid agencies to buy local food.

5. Developing countries should not commit to financial services liberalization in the context of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) or bilateral and regional trade negotiations, as this can adversely impact farmers’ access to financial services such as insurance and credit.

We look forward to discussing these issues further with you, and to seeing real solutions to the global food crisis.


International and Regional Networks

1. Action Aid International International
2. Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network (AEFJN) Africa and Europe
3. Africa Trade Network (ATN) Africa
4. Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Neal, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka
5. A SEED Europe
6. ATTAC Argentina, Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Spain, Poland, Flanders (Belgium), Hungary, Italy, Switzerland
7. Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago
8. Consejo de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo de Centroamérica (Council of Research for Development of Central America – CIDECA) Central America
9. Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (Latin American
Coordination of Rural Organizations – CLOC) Latin America
10. East and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Africa
11. Economic Justice Network (EJN) of the Fellowship of Christian Councils Southern Africa
12. Friends of the Earth International International
13. Friends of the Earth Europe
14. Fundación América Latina Latin America
15. Focus on the Global South Thailand
16. Global Network Latin America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru
17. Grupo de Agricultura y Comercio de la Alianza Social Continental (Working Group on Trade and Agriculture of the Hemispheric Social Alliance) Latin America
18. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) International
19. International Gender and Trade Network International
20. International Metalworkers Federation East and Southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Caribbean
21. International Union of Food Workers International
22. La Via Campesina International
23. Mesa de Coordinación Latinoamericana de Comercio Justo Latin America
24. Oxfam International International
25. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International
26. Public Services International Europe, Asia-Pacific, Inter-Americas, Africa & Arab countries
27. Red de Acción en Plaguicidas de América Latina (Network on Pesticides, Latin America – RAPAL) Latin America
28. Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda
29. Third World Network Malaysia, Africa, Geneva, China
30. The World Alliance of Reformed Churches International
31. UBUNTU International
32. Young Womens Christian Alliance International

National and Sub Regional Networks Organization Presence In
1. Acción Ecológica Ecuador
2. ACSUR Las Segovias Spain
3. Advocates for Safe Parenthood St. Lucia
4. Africa Action USA
5. African Forum on Alternatives Senegal
6. Agricultural Missions, Inc. USA
7. Aitec France
8. Alianza Social Continental Capítulo Peru
9. Alianza por Litorales Manglares Aguas y Suelos (ALMAS) Venezuela
10. Anti Debt Coalition (KUA) Indonesia
11. Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) Philippines
12. Nationale des Consommateurs et de l’Environnement du Togo Togo
13. Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) Thailand
14. Artisanal Fishers Association South Africa
15. Australia Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) Australia
16. Bhartiya Krishak Samaj (National Farmers’ Movement – BKS) India
17. Biios Iguana A.C. de Colima Mexico
18. Brot Fuer De Welt Germany
19. Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank (CRBM) Italy
20. Canadian Council for International Co-Operation Canada
21. Canadian National Farmers Union Canada
22. Center for Encounter and Active Non-Violence Austria
23. Centre for Civil Society Economic Justice Project (University of KwaZulu-Natal) South Africa
24. Center for Women’s Studies, Catholic University of Our Lady of the Ascension Paraguay
25. Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (National Labor Federation – CUT) Brazil
26. Centre du Commerce International pour le Developpement (CECIDE) Guinee
27. Centre for Education and Communication (CEC) India
28. Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) The Netherlands
29. CENTINELA Venezuela
30. Centro Cultural Pachakamak Ayni Ecuador
31. Centro de Formación Guayana Venezuela
32. Centro de Politicas Publicas para el Socialismo (CEPPAS) Argentina
33. Centro de Estudios Sobre Tecnologías Apropiadas (Center for the Study of
Appropriate Technology) Argentina
34. Center for Fair and Alternative Trade Studies USA
35. Centre National de Coopération au Développement (CNCD-11.11.11) Belgium
36. Christians for Justice and Peace Colombia
37. CIDSE Belgium
38. French Committee for International Solidarity (CFSI) France
39. Central Geral dos Trabalhadores do Brasil (National Workers’ Federation – CGTB) Brazil
40. Centro de Investigación y Promoción Franciscano y Ecológico (Center for Franciscan and Ecological Investigation and Promotion –CIPFE) Uruguay
41. Center of Concern USA
42. Citizen for Social Justice and Development Pakistan
43. Ciudadanos Por La Integracion Peru
44. Coecoceiba-FOE Costa Rica
45. Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas Josefa Camejo Venezuela
46. Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires Belgium
47. Colectivo Rebelión Mexico
48. Comhlamh Ireland
49. Comitè de Solidaritat amb els Pobles Indígenes dZ Amèrica Spain
50. Committee for Asian Women (CAW) Thailand
51. Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) The Netherlands
52. Common Frontiers Canada
53. Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS) Philippines
54. Consumers Association of Penang Malaysia
55. Coordinador Consumidores por el Desarollo Peru
56. Coordination Sud, French Platform of Development NGOs France
57. Coordination Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) India
58. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) The Netherlands
59. Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center Kenya
60. DECA Equipo Pueblo Mexico
61. Departamento de Pastoral Social Diócesis de San Carlos de Bariloche Argentina
62. Ecologistas en Acción Spain
63. Earth Spirituality USA
64. Economic Justice Network South Africa
65. Economic Justice and Development Organization (EJAD) Pakistan
66. Ecoportal.Net Argentina
67. El Movimiento Popular y Social Organizado de El Salvador en las Comunidades de Fe y Vida
COFEVI y su Pastoral Ecumenica El Salvador
68. Enda Tiers Monde Senegal
69. Espacio DESC Mexico
70. Enginyeria Sense Fronteres-Catalunya Spain
71. El Grupo Por Una Agricultura Alternativa Y de Alerta Ante La Transgenesis (Alternative Agriculture and GMO Alert Group – AGALAT) Panama
72. Ethical Development Action (EDA) of Cork Ireland
73. Fair Italy
74. Family Farm Defenders USA
75. Farmer Solidarity Project USA
76. Federación de Obreros Universitarios Venezuela
77. Federación de Sindicato de Profesores Universitarios (FENASINPRES) Venezuela
78. Federación de Trabajadores de la Harina (FETRAHARINA) Venezuela
79. Federación de Trabajadores de la Industria Gragica (FETRAIG) Venezuela
80. Federación de Trabajadores de Telecomunicaciones (FETRATELECOMUNICACIONES) Venezuela
81. Federación de Trabajadores del Sector Eléctrico (FETRAELEC) Venezuela
82. Federación de Trabajadores Universitarios (FETRAUVE) Venezuela
83. Federación Nacional de Sindicatos de Trabajadores de la Salud (FENASIRTRASALUD) Venezuela
84. Federación Nacional de Trabajadores del Sector Público (FENTRASEP) Venezuela
85. Federación Regional Única de Trabajadores Campesinos del Altiplano Sur FRUTCAS de Uyuni Bolivia
86. Federación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Petroleo y Gas (FUTEP) Venezuela
87. Farmer and Nature Net (FNN) Cambodia
88. Fondazione Neno Zanchetta Italy
89. Food & Water Watch USA, Europe
90. FoodSPAN Ghana
91. Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy USA
92. Foro “Corriente de Opinion Ciudadana” Argentina
93. Frente Democrático Campesino (FDC) Mexico
94. Friends of the Earth Malaysia
95. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
96. Fundación de Estudios, Acción, y Participación Social de Ecuador Ecuador
97. Fundación Solon Bolivia
98. FUNDAMAYA Guatemala
99. Galway One World Centre Ireland
100. Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC) Ghana
101. Global Compliance Research Project Canada
102. Global Exchange USA
103. Global Youth Network for Economic Justice (GLOYONEJ) Indonesia
104. Globalization Watch Hiroshima Japan
105. Gret France
106. Grassroots International USA
107. GroundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa
108. Grupo Red de Economía Solidaria del Perú (GRESP) Peru
109. Grupo de Estudios Ambientales Mexico
110. Hecho en Buenos Aires Argentina
111. IBON Foundation, Inc. Philippines
112. ILSA Colombia
113. Indian Society For Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development India
114. Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika (IGLA) Austria
115. Initiative Colibri Germany
116. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) USA
117. Institute for Global Justice (IGJ) Indonesia
118. Instituto de Regeneración Ecológica Ecuador
119. International Forum on Globalization USA
120. International Grail Justice in Trade Network Australia
121. Japan Family Farmers Movement (NOUMINREN) Japan
122. Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ USA
123. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives Canada
124. Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Caribbean USA
125. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Philippines
126. La Coordinadora Simòn Bolìvar Venezuela
127. La Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (UNES) El Salvador
128. La Articulación Nacional Campesina Dominican Republic
129. Labour, Health, and Human Rights Development Centre Nigeria
130. La’o Hamutuk (Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis) Timor-Leste
131. Latin American Solidarity Centre Ireland
132. Legal Defense and Education for Women “Vereda Themis” Mexico
133. Llamado Mundial a la Acción contra la Pobreza Peru
134. Malawi Health Equity Network Malawi
135. MASIPAG Philippines
136. Marcha Mundial de Mujeres Argentina
137. Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres Peru
138. Mesa Global de Guatemala Guatemala
139. Mennonite Central Committee Canada
140. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) Sri Lanka
141. Movimiento De Trabajadores Alfredo Maneiro Venezuela
142. Movimiento Por La Autonomia Sindical Venezuela
143. Mujeres Trabajando Argentina
144. Mujeres para el Diálogo (MpD) Mexico
145. Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres (MMM) Mexico
146. National Agricultural Workers Forum (NAWF) India
147. National Alliance of People’s Movements India
148. National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates Philippines
149. OEBV-Via Campesina Austria
150. Movimiento de Agricultura Orgánica Costarricense (Costa Rican Organic Agricultural Movement – MAOCO) Costa Rica
151. Poverty Eliminationa and Community Education Foundation (PEACE FOUNDATION) Bangladesh
152. Peoples’ Network against Liberalization of Agriculture (PUMALAG) Philippines
153. Planeta Paz Colombia
154. Plataforma Argentina del GCAP Argentina
155. Plataforma de Solidaridad con Chiapas, Oaxaca y Guatemala de Madrid Spain
156. Platform Aarde Boer Consument (Earth Farmer Consumer) The Netherlands
157. Polaris Institute Canada
158. Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch USA
159. Presentation Justice Network Ireland
160. RALLT Ecuador
161. Red de Organizaciones Sociales Paraguay
162. Red de Semillas “Resembrando e Intercambiando” Spain
163. Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (Mexican Action Network on Free
Trade – RMALC) Mexico
164. Red Peruana de Comercio Justo y Consumo Ético (Peruvian Network of Fair Trade and Ethical Consumption) Peru
165. Red Sinti Techan El Salvador
166. Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos Brazil
167. Red Nacional Género y Economia (REDGE) Mexico
168. Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochem TNCs (RESIST) Philippines
169. Rural Women’s NGO Kyrgyzstan
170. Sandigan Samahang Magsasaka (SASAMAG) Philippines
171. SETEM Spain
172. Social Enterprise Development Foundation of West Africa (SEND) Ghana
173. Sindicato Nacional Fuerza Unitaria Magisterial (SINAFUM) Venezuela
174. Sindicato Unitario De La Construcción (SUTAC) Venezuela
175. Social Development Network Kenya
176. SOS Faim – Agir avec le Sud Belgium
177. SOS Faim – Action for Development Luxembourg
178. South Asian Network for Social and Agricultural Development (SANSAD) India
179. Southeast Asian Council For Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON) South Asia
180. Spire, the Development Fund Youth Group Norway
181. St. Lucia National Organization of Women St. Lucia
182. Sugar Workers Solidarity Network Philippines
183. Taller Ecologista Argentina
184. Tanggol Magsasaka Philippines
185. The Cornucopia Institute USA
186. The Development Fund Norway
187. The National Confederation Of Officers Associations (NCOA) India
188. The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Philippines
189. The Oakland Institute USA
190. The Trade Collective South Africa
191. Tierra Viva Bolivia
192. Trade Watch Italy
193. Transnational Institute The Netherlands
194. Trócaire Ireland
195. Union De Comunidades Indigenas De La Zonanorte Del Istmo (Community Union of Indigenous of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus – Ucizoni) Mexico
196. Veterinarios Sin Fronteras Spain
197. Voice Bangladesh
198. Vredeseilanden Belgium
199. Washington Biotechnology Action Council USA
200. War on Want United Kingdom
201. Welfare Association for the Rights of Bangladeshi Emigrants (WARBE) Bangladesh
202. Womyn’s Agenda for Change (WAC) Cambodia
203. World Development Movement United Kingdom
204. World View The Gambia
205. X minus Y Solidarity Fund The Netherlands

1 At the WTO’s General Council and Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC), the Director-General, Pascal Lamy, said “we have all witnessed the financial turbulence we are in and the hikes in energy and food prices that are affecting severely many of your countries. At a time when the world economy is in rough waters, concluding the Doha Round can provide a strong anchor.” Mr. Lamy has argued that the continuous expansion of multilateral trade is an insurance policy against market instabilities and financial turbulences. The President of the World Bank and former U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, argued in a speech at the Center for Global Development, that a key solution to the food crisis “is to break the Doha Development Agenda impasse.” He said, “A fairer and more open global trading system for agriculture will give more opportunities – and confidence – to African and other developing country farmers to expand production.” Similarly, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the IMF, wrote in an opinion in the Financial Times, “no one should forget that all countries rely on open trade to feed their populations. […] Completing the Doha round would play a critically helpful role in this regard, as it would reduce trade barriers and distortions and encourage agricultural trade.” Finally, the Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurría, wrote in an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune, “Governments around the world face weakening economies and soaring food prices. Amid the hand-wringing, an important and immediate step they can take to help would be to agree on a new multilateral trade deal.”
· Financial Times, COMMENT: A global approach is required to tackle high food prices, By Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Apr 21, 2008
· International Herald Tribune, Trade Agreement Needed Now, By Angel Gurría, April 25, 2008
2 A food trade surplus of US$1.9 billion in the 1970’s was transformed into a US$17.6 billion deficit in 2000 and a US$9.3 billion deficit in 2004. Excluding Brazil, the figures are even more drastic: A food trade surplus of US$1.6 billion was transformed into a deficit of US$26.1 billion by 2004. The cereal import bill for low-income food deficit countries in 2007 reached over US$38 billion. According to FAO projections, by the year 2030, the net food trade deficit of developing countries is expected to swell to more than US$50 billion.
3 Cited in The Star Tribune.
4 Making a Killing from Hunger, Grain, April 2008.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s