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[Fwd: [DEBATE] : (Fwd) Bello, Shiva and Sharma crit HK WTO]

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  • glparramatta
    The Meaning of Hong Kong: Brazil and India Join the Big Boys Club By Walden Bello* What was at stake in Hong Kong was the institutional survival of the World
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29, 2005
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      The Meaning of Hong Kong: Brazil and India Join the Big Boys' Club

      By Walden Bello*

      What was at stake in Hong Kong was the institutional survival of the World
      Trade Organization. After the collapse of two ministerials in Seattle and
      Cancun, a third unraveling would have seriously eroded the usefulness of the
      WTO as the key engine of global trade liberalization. A deal was needed,
      and that deal was arrived at. How, why, and by whom that deal was delivered
      was the real story of Hong Kong.

      A Real Deal, not a Cosmetic One

      The Hong Kong deal has been characterized in some reports as a
      "minimum package" that mainly functions as a life support system for the
      WTO. This is hardly the case. The deal extracted substantial concessions
      from developing countries while giving them hardly anything in return.
      The stipulation of a Swiss formula to govern Non-Agricultural Market Access
      (NAMA), which would cut higher tariffs proportionally more than lower
      tariffs, would penalize mainly developing countries since to build up their
      industrial sectors via import substitution they generally maintain higher
      industrial and manufacturing tariffs than developed countries.
      The specification of a "plurilateral" process of negotiations in the
      services text erodes the flexible request-offer approach that has marked the
      General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations, injects a
      mandatory element, and will corral many developing countries into sectoral
      negotiations.
      What the South got in return was mainly a date for the final phase-out of
      export subsidies in agriculture that nevertheless left the structure of
      subsidization of agricultural subsidization in the European Union and the
      United States largely intact. Even with the phase out of formally defined
      export subsidies, other forms of export support will allow the European
      Union, for instance, to continue to subsidize exports to the tune of 55
      billion euros after 2013.
      In sum, this was an agreement with teeth, but the bite will be felt
      principally by the developing countries.
      The contours of the deal were already evident before Hong Kong, and many
      developing countries went to the ministerial determined to oppose it.
      Indeed, there were occasions, such as the formation on Dec. 16 of the G 110
      by the G 33, G 90, and ACP (Asia Caribbean Pacific countries), that
      indicated that developing country unity might yet emerge to derail the
      impending deal. Yet, in the end, the developing country governments caved
      in, many of them motivated solely by the fear of getting saddled with the
      blame for the collapse of the organization. Even Cuba and Venezuela
      confined themselves to registering only "reservations" with the services
      text during the closing session of the ministerial in the evening of
      December 18.
      The Dealmakers
      The reason for the developing countries' collapse was not so much lack of
      leadership, but leadership that brought them in the opposite direction. The
      key to the debacle of Hong Kong was the role of Brazil and India, the
      leaders of the famed Group of 20.
      Even before Hong Kong, Brazil and India were prepared to make a deal. For
      Brazil, the bottom line was the specification by the European Union of a
      date for the phase-out of agricultural export subsidies, and this was an
      item that Brazilian negotiators and many others expected would be delivered
      by the EU at the ministerial, though for negotiating purposes the Europeans
      would not reveal it till the last minute. Brazil also came to Hong Kong
      willing to accept a Swiss formula in NAMA and the plurilateral approach in
      services. India, for its part, arrived in Hong Kong with its positions well
      known. It would accept the plurilateral approach in services negotiations
      and the Swiss formula in NAMA and follow Brazil's lead in agriculture. The
      only question for many was: would India press for developed country
      concessions in Mode 4 of GATS-that is, get the US and EU to agree to the
      entry of more professionals from developing countries? As it turned out, it
      decided not to press Washington on this.

      The Prize

      It is a matter of debate whether the final agreement will result in a net
      gain for Brazil and India, though if the balance ends up with a net loss,
      this would likely be smaller than for the less advanced developing
      countries. However, the main gain for Brazil and India lay not in the
      impact of the agreement on their economies but in the affirmation of their
      new role as power brokers within the WTO.
      With the emergence of the G 20 during the ministerial in Cancun in 2003, the
      EU and the US were put on notice that the old structure of power and
      decision-making at the WTO was obsolete. New players had to be accommodated
      into the elite. The circle of power had to be expanded to get the
      organization back on its feet and moving. The EU and US's invitation to
      Brazil and India to be part, along with Australia, of the "Five Interested
      Parties (FIPs)," was a key step in this direction, and it was agreement
      among the FIPs that solved the impasse in the agriculture negotiations,
      which led, in turn, to the Framework Agreement at the General Council
      meeting in July 2004.
      In the lead-up of the Hong Kong ministerial, Brazil and India's new role as
      power brokers between the developed and developing world was affirmed with
      the creation of a new informal grouping known as the "New Quad". This
      formation, which included the EU, US, Brazil, and India, played the decisive
      role in setting the agenda and the direction of the negotiations. Its main
      objective in Hong Kong was to save the WTO. And the role of Brazil and
      India was to extract the assent of the developing countries to an unbalanced
      agreement that would make this possible in the face of the reluctance of the
      EU and US to make substantive concessions in agriculture. Delivering this
      consent was to be the proof that Brazil and India were "responsible" global
      actors. It was the price that they had to pay for full membership in new,
      enlarged power structure.
      It took a lot of lobbying before and during Hong Kong, with both governments
      putting their reputation as leaders of the developing world on the line, but
      they succeeded in getting everybody, though not without some grumbling, to
      assent to a bad deal. It was no mean feat for it involved:
      - getting the least developed countries to agree
      to a "development package" that consisted mainly of a loophole-ridden
      provision for the "duty free" and "quota free" entry of their products into
      developed country markets and a deceptively named "aid for trade" deal that
      would consist partly of loans to enable them to make their economic rules
      WTO-consistent, increasing their indebtedness in the process;
      - cajoling the West African cotton producers to
      accept a deal whose main content was giving the US a whole extra year to
      eliminate export subsidies that it should have eliminated a year and a half
      ago, following a WTO decision against these subsidies, and which totally
      ignored their demand for compensation for the enormous damage these
      subsidies had inflicted on their economies;
      - coaxing the holdouts in the services
      negotiations-Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Venezuela, and Cuba-to
      give up their opposition to Annex C of the draft declaration, which
      stipulated plurilateral negotiations; and
      - neutralizing the more dissatisfied members of
      the so-called "NAMA 11," (of which Brazil and India were themselves members)
      which wanted to tie the North's demands for a fast pace of liberalization in
      industrial and fishery tariffs to the North's concessions in agriculture.

      Mutual Admiration Club

      The final G 20 press conference in the late afternoon of December 18 was
      notable for its lack of substance and for its symbolism. As if to preempt
      hard questions on whether the ministerial text represented a good deal for
      developing countries, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim repeatedly
      claimed "We have a date," referring to the 2013 phase-out date for export
      subsidies. Then Amorim and Indian Commerce and Industy Minister Kamal Nath
      engaged in a round of backslapping, congratulating one another for doing a
      great job in coming out with an agreement that protected the interests of
      developing countries. Then, with so many of those in attendance poised to
      ask questions, Amorim hurriedly cut short the press conference and quickly
      left the room with Kamal Nath, ostensibly for another meeting but obviously
      so as not to be on the line of fire from skeptical reporters and NGO
      representatives.
      At the closing session of Sixth Ministerial, Pascal Lamy, the director
      general, said that in Hong Kong, "the balance of power has tilted in favor
      of developing countries." The statement was not entirely cynical and
      untrue. The grain of truth in his statement was that India and Brazil, the
      big boys of the developing world, had become part of the big boys club that
      governs the WTO.

      Paradox

      It is paradoxical that the G 20, whose formation captured the imagination of
      the developing world during the Cancun ministerial, has ended up being the
      launching pad for India and Brazil's integration into the WTO power
      structure. But this is hardly unusual in history. Vilfredo Pareto, the
      Italian thinker, referred to history being the "graveyard of aristocracies"
      that took a hard line against change in power relations. To Pareto, the
      most successful elites are those that manage to coopt the leaders of the
      mass insurgency that set out to remove them for power and enlarge the power
      elite while preserving the structure of the system. Though divided on
      agriculture, the US and the EU had as a common priority since the collapse
      of the Cancun ministerial the survival of the WTO, and they successfully
      managed a strategy of cooptation that snatched victory from the jaws of
      defeat in Hong Kong.
      Before the events in Hong Kong, the most striking recent cases of cooptation
      involved the Worker's Party-led government of President Luis Inacio da Silva
      in Brazil and the Congress-led coalition government in India. Both came to
      power with anti-neoliberal platforms. But in power, both have become the
      most effective stabilizers of neoliberal programs, with both enjoying the
      support of the International Monetary Fund, the transnational corporate
      lobby, and Washington. It is not unreasonable to assume that there is a
      connection between the domestic record of these governments and their
      performance on the global stage in Hong Kong.

      *Executive Director of the Bangkok-based research, analysis, and advocacy
      institute Focus on the Global South.


      ***

      ZNet Commentary
      Beyond the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong December 26, 2005
      By Vandana Shiva

      Hong Kong will go down in history with Seattle and Cancun, both in terms of
      people's resistance in the streets and the resistance of developing
      countries within. Total failure of the WTO Doha round was averted by the fig
      leaf of withdrawal of export subsidies in agriculture by 2013 (while most of
      the $ 400 billion subsidies of the rich country industrialized corporatised
      agriculture will remain) and the fig leaf of "aid-for-trade".

      The agreements on liberalization of services and industrial goods (NAMA)
      which had been totally rejected by the developing countries were sneaked in
      through a divide and rule policy of U.S and EU which have started to treat
      Brazil and India as "developed" thus splitting the unity of the G-20 forged
      in Cancun, and turning into a empty shell the new forged alliance of the
      G-20 and G-90. If the G-110 had negotiated as G-110, instead of merely
      announcing the grand alliance, services and NAMA would not have gone
      through.

      TRIPS AND MONOPOLIES ON SEEDS AND MEDICINES

      My own involvement with GATT WTO began during the Uruguay Round because I
      could not ethically or intellectually accept the TRIPS agreement, which
      creates monopolies on seeds and medicines and forces countries to introduce
      patents on life. These abhorrent clauses of TRIPS were to be reviewed in the
      Doha Round. Para 19 of the Doha declaration specifically built into the work
      programme, the review of article 27.3(b) of TRIPS, which introduces patents
      on life, and a review of the whole of TRIPS under article 71.1. The
      mandatory review disappeared in Hong Kong. As is typical of the
      dismemberment processes intrinsic to WTO the review built into Article 27.3
      (b) of TRIPS and para 19 of Doha finds no mention in the Hong Kong
      declaration. All that is mentioned is geographical indicators for wines and
      spirits. Patents on lifeforms and biopiracy of traditional knowledge are not
      mentioned even though these issues have been raised repeatedly in the TRIPS
      council. The Indian Commerce Minister did made an impassioned speech on
      biopiracy and traditional knowledge at the plenary, but the review that is
      necessary to stop monopolies on seeds and medicines.

      The issue of the right to medicine was supposed to have been addressed in
      Doha in the public health declaration. However, the "permanent solution" for
      TRIPS and health in para 40 is making permanent a non-solution contained in
      the general council decision of 30 August 2003 on the implementation of para
      6 of the Doha declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health. This
      mechanism has not worked for any country.

      The Doha Round cannot be considered complete without completion of the
      mandatory review. Article 71.1 mandates a review every two years. It also
      empowers the council for TRIPS to "undertake reviews in the light of any
      relevant new developments which might warrant modification or amendment of
      this agreement".

      New developments include the epidemic of biopiracy and the concentration of
      corporate control in agriculture and health care. As a recently released
      group by ETC (group.oligopoly, Inc 2005) shows -

      " The world's top 10 seed companies have increased their control from
      one-third to one-half of the global seed trade

      " The top 10-biotech enterprises have raised their share from just over half
      to nearly three quarters of the world biotech sales

      " The top ten pharmaceutical companies control almost 59% market share of
      the world's leading 98 drug firms (previously the top ten accounted for 53%
      market share of 118 companies)

      These corporations drafted the TRIPS agreement and imposed on the people of
      the world. They are blocking the review by the same methods they used to
      impose TRIPS. Monopolies on seeds and medicines are costing lives. The
      review of TRIPS must be a strategic objective of all movements in 2006.

      WTO KILLS FARMERS : THE NEED FOR A CHANGE IN THE AGRICULTURE PARADIGM

      WTO reduced agriculture to a commodity. The Agreement on Agriculture was
      drafted by Cargill, not by farmers. 40,000 Indian farmers have committed
      suicide in the decade of WTO. Suicides are the result of debt, debt is the
      result of rising costs of inputs as agriculture is industrialized and
      corporatised, and falling prices resulting from trade liberalization and
      removal of import controls. Hong Kong brought no relief to the farmers of
      the world who were protesting on the streets. No commitments were made on
      bringing back quantitative restrictions and import controls - a call of
      farming communities everywhere. The removal of export subsidies by 2013 is
      meaningless in the context of the rapid destruction of small farms and
      decimation of small farmers. It is both meaningless because export subsidies
      are a merely $ 3 billion, while total subsidies for industrial agriculture
      in OECD countries is $ 400 billion.

      If farmers must survive we need a change in paradigm from industrial
      agriculture to ecological agriculture, from free trade to fair trade, from
      decisions about agriculture in WTO to decisions moving to local and national
      levels. This is the call for food sovereignty.

      Agriculture also needs to return to the ground because WTO cannot make
      democratic decisions about this vital sphere. Clayton Yrutter who went from
      Cargill to become the U.S trade representative during the Uruguay Round
      wrote in an article in Financial Times on December 15 titled "A Doha trade
      deal can be struck beyond Hong Kong" - "As always, the critical negotiations
      will eventually take place in Washington and Brussels ...... gathering 148
      trade ministers together is not conducive to agreement". Multilateralism was
      WTO's pretense. But multilateralism is not acceptable to the powerful. That
      is why they want political shrinkage in terms of participation but an
      economic expansion over our lives. We will continue to fight for democratic
      expansion and economic shrinkage in corporate control and WTO's
      jurisdiction.

      ***

      ZNet Commentary
      Sanity: Hong Kong Ministerial December 24, 2005
      By Devinder Sharma

      Much Ado About Nothing

      We were made to believe that everyone cannot be befooled at all the times.
      Ten years after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) came into existence, and
      looking at the outcome of the sixth Ministerial Conference at Hong Kong, it
      is time to bury the age-old adage under the heaps of trade drafts.

      For the sixth time in a row, the trade ministers of the developing world -
      representing issue-based coalitions like G-20, G-33 and G-90 - have been
      duped to believe that trade is for development. Despite making loud noises,
      threatening and fuming over the injustice done to the poor and developing
      countries, the trade ministers of the G-110 countries, comprising the entire
      developing world, finally bowed before the rich and mighty.

      You da manTen years after the WTO came into existence, and after six
      ministerial conferences, developing countries have failed miserably to force
      the rich industrialised countries to remove even one dollar from the massive
      agricultural support they provide to agribusiness corporations in the name
      of farmers. Unable to make any dent in the citadel of unfair trade - farm
      subsidy of US $ I billion a day - developing countries have time and again
      taken refuge behind an illusionary smoke screen. After each of the
      ministerial conferences, they have returned 'victorious', and the price has
      been paid by millions of small farmers edged out of farming.

      Hong Kong Ministerial (Dec 13-18, 2005) was no exception. Much excitement is
      over the elimination of export subsidies by 2013. This is the first time
      developing countries have managed a mention of reduction in subsidies. At
      present, export subsidies do not even constitute one per cent of the total
      support of US $ 360 billion that the richest trading block - 30 countries
      forming the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) -
      provide for agriculture. In any case, FAO projects that export subsidies
      have been steadily on the decline, falling from US $ 7.5 billion in 1995 to
      US $ 3 billion in 2001.

      EU provides 90 per cent of the global export subsidies. Over the years, it
      has very conveniently shifted the export subsidies to be part of the
      domestic support. Some estimates point out that EU does not shell out more
      than US $ 1.2 billion as export subsidies. As the French economist, Jacques
      Berthelot explains: "Formal export subsidies to EU cereals were reduced from
      Euro 2.2 billion in 1992 to 121 million in 2002. But domestic support in the
      form of direct payments that helped exported cereals rose from 117 million
      euros in 1992 to 1.3 billion euros in 2002."

      Not only export subsidies, but other export measures with equivalent effect
      such as export credits, guarantees and insurance in excess of 180 days has
      also to be eliminated. These pertain essentially to the US, which provides
      95 per cent of such global export measures. Developing countries have
      probably forgotten that the former USTR, Robert Zoellick, had suggested a
      flexibility formula for phasing out the export credit programs, which the EU
      and other members charge is a form of an export subsidy. To eliminate the
      subsidy component of export credits, all he had promised was his willingness
      to reduce repayment periods from 36 months to six months on the loans
      provided for buyers of some commodities.

      In turn, developing countries have agreed to a "high level of ambition for
      market access in agriculture and non-agriculture goods." The text links the
      market access in both areas, stating that the "ambition is to be achieved in
      a balanced and proportionate manner." This is what exactly the developed
      countries had been keenly looking forward, and this is where the developing
      countries gave in. Step by step, developed countries have been able to get
      more market access from the developing countries, without showing an equal
      reciprocation.

      Another key achievement is the promise of elimination of much-maligned US
      cotton subsidies. Let me first make it clear, it is not the cotton subsidies
      that the US has promised to remove by 2006. It is the export subsidies on
      cotton that the US is willing to do away with. In reality, as some estimates
      show it does not translate to more than $ 30 million, which is not even a
      drop in the ocean for American cotton growers. The US provides barely 1.4
      per cent of the global export subsidies.

      Let me explain. For the 20,000 cotton growers in America, it will be
      business as usual. In 2004, US cotton farmers got federal support to the
      tune of $ 4 billion, which means $ 10.1 million a day. In 2005, UN Human
      Development Report 2005 states the cotton growers were paid an additional $
      700 million thereby jacking up the total subsidy to reach a staggering
      figure of $ 4.7 billion. It is this huge subsidy support, much of it
      considered non-trade distorting that actually causes the global prices to
      slump. Indian cotton growers or for that matter cotton farmers in western
      Africa are thereby priced out of the international market.

      The Hong Kong declaration does not talk about reduction in domestic support
      in case of cotton. All it says is: "as an outcome of negotiations, trade
      distorting domestic subsidies for cotton production should be reduced,"
      which in trade terms means practically nothing. In fact, the contentious
      issue of domestic support for agriculture has remained untouched. And that
      is where the US, EU and Japan have succeeded. They have emerged scathe-free
      from a negotiating position that could have derailed the Hong Kong
      Ministerial. Developing countries term this as a 'success'.

      Let us not forget that in the first three years of the notorious Farm Bill
      2002, America provided an additional support of at least US $ 125 billion
      (70 per cent of the total allocated budgetary support of US $ 180 billion)
      to its estimated 9,00,000 farming families. These counter-cyclic payments,
      again considered non-trade distorting have already filled the bank accounts
      of the agri-business companies and the elite in the American society.
      And yet, the US is getting ready with another version of the Farm Bill that
      should come into vogue in 2007. On top of it, there is no provision in the
      Hong Kong declaration that can stop the developed countries to further
      increase their agricultural subsidies. Under the July Framework 2004,
      developing countries have now legally permitted the developed countries to
      increase their agricultural subsidies

      When asked, India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath replied: "The US has
      already offered to reduce domestic support by 53 per cent while the EU offer
      is for 70 per cent." This was actually a commitment that the US and EU had
      made in mid-October. Interestingly, the minister had then lashed out: "What
      the US proposed last month is not real cuts in agriculture subsidies. The
      real cuts would be when there is decline in the support provided by the US
      treasury," he asserted. But post-Hong Kong, for some strange reasons the
      minister agreed to the same commitment!

      The US/EU offer pertained to cut the ceiling on trade-distorting subsidies
      by 60 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively. Let me clarify here that the
      US/EU proposal did not mean reduction in farm subsidies by 60 to 70 per cent
      but a reduction in the 'ceiling' on trade-distorting subsidies. As far as
      the overall reduction is concerned, it does not translate into any reduction
      in the domestic support being given.

      Kamal Nath probably thought that public memory is too short. Just in a
      matter of ten days, he made a complete u-turn in his stand on agricultural
      subsidies. This is exactly what he did at the time of accepting the July
      Framework. Two days before the final draft was accepted in Geneva in the
      early hours of August 1, 2004, he had publicly rejected it. And then, for
      reasons that remain unexplained, accepted the same draft (with hardly any
      changes) two days later and called it a 'victory' for India.

      There is no denying that the biggest culprit is the July Framework 2004. It
      provides a cushion for the developed countries to raise farm subsidies from
      the existing level. It also is the foundation for future negotiations under
      the Doha Development Round. But if you read the draft carefully, it is
      obvious that the developing countries had been taken for a ride. Instead of
      re-opening the framework agreement, developing countries continue to
      negotiate on a faulty structure. It is because of the framework agreement
      that the developed countries are promising to cut domestic support, which in
      reality is only on 'paper'.

      The first instalment of a cut in subsidies by 20 per cent under the July
      Framework is not based on the present level of subsidies but on a much
      higher level that has been now authorized based on the three components --
      the final bound total AMS, plus permitted de minimis, plus the Blue Box. In
      other words, developed countries have been allowed enough leverage by the
      developing countries to increase their subsidies. How can the developing
      countries justify this? How could they forget that as long as the
      agricultural subsidies remain, protecting food and livelihood security in
      developing countries is not at all possible?

      Allowing developing countries to select its own list of special products,
      which would be outside the ambit of tariff reduction formula, along with
      special safeguard mechanisms (SSM) is being touted as adequate safeguard to
      protect farmers from income levels falling due to unfair competition from
      subsidised imports. SSM enables government to raise import duties on
      agricultural products if there is a surge in imports or fall in world
      prices.

      We need to understand this. Developed countries have used special safeguards
      measures (SSM), only by 38 rich countries so far, to restrict imports from
      developing countries. They have already been taking advantage of this
      flexibility by reserving the right to use the SSM for a large number of
      products: Canada reserves the right to use SSG for 150 tariff lines, the EU
      for 539 tariff lines, Japan for 121 tariff lines, the US for 189 tariff
      lines, and Switzerland for 961 tariff lines.

      The only redeeming feature is that the developing countries will now be
      allowed to use the same measures, and this is where these countries can
      assert on re-imposing tariffs and counter-veiling duties to meet food
      security concerns. These measures however are temporary and would only come
      in place after the importing countries have actually felt the after-shock of
      import surges.

      As far as special products are concerned, not all products or tariff lines
      can be protected under the SP category. The draft very clearly states that
      at present the offer is to classify anything between 1 to 20 per cent of the
      total tariff lines as special products. For a country like India, which
      grows 260 crops a year, and has 680 tariff lines in agriculture, not more
      than 60-80 tariff lines can be protected under the SP category. What would
      happen to the remaining 600 tariff lines? Isn't it a fact that each tariff
      line is linked to the livelihood of thousands of farmers?

      This 'benevolence' is no justification for the developing countries to
      rejoice. The fact is that the developed countries have also been allowed a
      similar provision under the July Framework. Developed countries can term
      some crucial commodities as 'sensitive' and thereby deny market access. For
      instance, the US, EU, Japan and Canada maintain tariff peaks of 350 to 900
      per cent on food products such as sugar, rice, dairy products, meat, fruits,
      vegetables and fish, which can be easily brought under the category of
      'sensitive' and some 25-40 of the sensitive tariff lines under the tariff
      rate quota can be easily protected under this category.

      It is now abundantly clear that while the developing countries have got
      Special Products and SSM, the developed countries have almost an equal and
      parallel provision of Sensitive Products and SSM. If the developed countries
      had felt satisfied with the two provisions - Sensitive Products and SSM - to
      protect their agriculture, there would have been no need to provide the
      monumental farm subsidy support. The fact that developed countries,
      adequately armed with the safeguard provisions (besides non-tariff barriers
      and phytosanitary measures), are still not willing to eliminate agricultural
      subsidies, clearly shows where the key to a fair trade in agriculture lies.

      Unless agricultural subsidies are removed there is no way developing
      countries can escape the harmful impacts of cheaper and subsidised food
      surges. Highly subsidies imports from the developed countries have already
      done irreparable damage to the agricultural production potential of the
      developing countries. Between 1995 and 2004, Europe alone has been able to
      increase its agricultural exports by 26 per cent, much of it because of the
      massive domestic subsidies it provides. Each percentage increase in exports
      brings in a financial gain of US $ 3 billion.

      On the other hand, a vast majority of the developing countries, whether in
      Latin America, Africa or Asia have in the first 10 years of WTO have turned
      into food importers. Millions of farmers have lost their livelihoods as a
      result of cheaper imports. If the WTO has its ways, and the developing
      countries fail to understand the prevailing politics that drives the
      agriculture trade agenda, the world will soon have two kinds of agriculture
      systems - the rich countries will produce staple foods for the world's 6
      billion plus people, and developing countries will grow cash crops like
      tomato, cut flowers, peas, sunflower, strawberries and vegetables.

      In reality, WTO would ensure that the reins of food security are passed into
      the hands of rich and developed countries -- back to the days of
      'ship-to-mouth' existence. Developing countries have no one to blame, but
      themselves. #

      (Devinder Sharma is a New Delhi-based food and trade policy analyst)

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