Lamy should ensure fair trade

Original Publication Date: 
2 April, 2006
There has been no substantial progress in agriculture trade negotiations in Geneva. The April 30 deadline set by the WTO director-general, Pascal Lamy seems unlikely to be met.

The director general knows the ground realities for certain. Despite this, he is making a frantic bid to make the parties come to an agreed conclusion. He will be on a tour to India, this week on April 5-6. This, time he wants to hold discussions with all stakeholders in India.

A fair and non-discriminatory farm negotiation can be achieved if the WTO focuses primarily on the concerns of farmers, particularly the small and marginal farmers, across the globe. The very reason for stagnation in agriculture negotiations is that WTO is concerned more on boosting trade rather than the livelihood and security of the farmers.

The driving motive of WTO is to industrialise agriculture. The indication is clear in keeping fisheries out of agriculture negotiation and placing it under non-agricultural market access (Nama). Developed countries, having enough resources, have been able to protect their agriculture through heavy subsidies, high tariff barriers and discriminatory non-tariff barriers.

But this situation has not helped the small and marginal farmers in the developed world, except in countries like Japan, where majority are small farmers by default. Over the years, in the quest for industrialisation of agriculture, the West has systematically pursed a policy of encouraging large farm holdings and large corporate farming. The small farmers and family farms became marginalised in the process and migrations to urban areas took place.

About three-fourth of present day