Food Sovereignty & the 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Bali: an impossible marriage?

Food Sovereignty & the 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Bali: an impossible marriage?


The 9th WTO conference started this week in Bali, Indonesia. Development and farmer organizations are worried that the industrialized countries will not take into account the interests of developing countries, and that trade rules will overrule food security. VECO’s advocacy officer in Indonesia, Adil Mareta, attended one of the civil society side events of the summit.

Along with an Indonesia NGO – Institute for Global Justice – Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty (APFNS) organized a workshop entitled ‘’Uphold Food Sovereignty, Reclaim Resources, Reclaim Rights” on 29-30 November 2013 in Bali. This was part of a side event of the WTO Ministerial Meeting which would be also held in Bali. Other organizations, such as labour rights groups, environmental groups, human rights groups, also organized side events as part of their contribution to Bali Week of Actions.

APNFS invited its member – NGOs, farmer’s organizations, fisher’s organizations, climate justice movements, water rights group – from Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Phillippines including VECO Indonesia’s partners, namely Aliansi Petani Indonesia (Indonesian Peasants Alliance). The workshop aimed at presenting some studies on resource grabbing – water, land, and forest – in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Phillipines to provide evidence that trade and investment liberalisation did not give benefit to smallholder farmers and fishers and did not contribute to food sovereignty of the developing countries as well. APFNS believed that the WTO was responsible in acceleratting such liberalisation.

Besides, the workshop aimed at presenting also a study on the ASEAN perspective on G33 proposal. The proposal was an effort to achieve food security and protect the poor farmers. For this purpose agricultural subsidies can be given without limit. APFNS appreciated with the proposal of G33. Led by the Government of Indonesia G33 would struggle to increase agricultural subsidy limit from 10% to 15% of the total production cost for the next negotiation.

Based on its studies APFNS then developed position paper and would organise some events to convey its message. Instead of supporting the position of G33, APFNS would demand an end of the WTO negotiations. APFNS believed that the next negotiation would not favour to the G33 proposal. The opposition on the G33 proposal was from US and EU. To respond the proposal both of them offered a peace clause: developing countries could continue to give agricultural subsidies above 10% only for two years.

(Foto: Benny Kuruvilla)