Denpasar, 2 December 2013. The Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS), on the eve of the 9th Ministerial Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali happening from 3-6 December 2013 calls for a decisive stop to trade liberalization being pushed in the Bali negotiations package consisting of proposals in trade facilitation, Agriculture Agreement and, Development package for the Least Developed Countries.
Arze Glipo, APNFS regional coordinator, lamented that the World Trade Organization has only exacerbated poverty of millions of poor farmers and fishers all over the world, by imposing unfair caps in farm price support and subsidies granted by developing country governments while exposing their agriculture to unfair competition from subsidized food imports from rich countries. She added that “developing country governments should instead raise their agriculture subsidies to levels more than what is allowed in the Agriculture Agreement in order to raise farmers’ incomes, re-invigorate rural economies and build sufficient food stocks needed to meet rising consumption as well as recurring emergency situations.”The Bali package as it revives the ailing negotiations in the WTO would only mean more threats to people’s food sovereignty.
Riza Damanik, the Executive Director of Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) stated, “The Bali Package will worsen agriculture liberalization in ASEAN Countries, and the Trade Facilitation agreement will facilitate increased imports rather than export in our country. Today Indonesia is the biggest food importer and we have already lost our food sovereignty”. He added that the G33, a grouping of developing countries in the WTO, may eventually succumb to pressure from developed countries to withdraw their position to raise subsidies for public food stockholding in exchange for trade facilitation agreement.
APNFS reiterates its stand that WTO remains an unjust institution that has allowed unlimited profit-making of transnational corporations by eliminating trade restrictions, while undermining poor people’s livelihoods and the sovereignty of poorer countries. Jahangir Masum From Coastal Development Partnership of Bangladesh, stated that, “WTO victimizes local farmers & producers but entrenches monopoly of transnational corporations in seeds, inputs and agriculture markets. Besides, since WTO has the power to supersede any national laws, it remainsa direct threat to national sovereignty, democracy & human rights.”
In the context of climate change, WTO rules do not favor the just transition of agrarian countries in the region that are dependent on their land and natural resources to a more sustainable future. Mida Saragih, Coordinator of Indonesia Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice (CSF-CJI) mentioned that, “The WTO proposal for commercialization of energy has threatened people’s right to sustainable energy in Asia Pacific. Industrial countries push for trade facilitation for energy trading and also control over technology on renewable energy, under Intellectual Property Right (IPR) Agreement. This makes affordability of renewable energy become so high, that it has deprived people access.”
Based on CSF-CJI data center, Asia-Pacific is a region with a rich and wide range of energy resources, in conventional/ unconventional types of fossil fuels, as well as a high potential for renewable energy. Looking only at Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, primary energy consumption, represent a 9.8% share of the 2012 world total. Primary energy generally refers to all commercially traded fuels, including small portion renewable energy types used to generate electricity.
“Our demand towards industrialized and Asia Pacific countries that energy system must be directed at achieving drastic reduction of Green House Gas Emission to keep global temperature as far below 1,5 degree celcius, in a just transition towards renewable energy system. Annex 1 countries and emerging must immediately reduce their fossil fuel consumption. Also, countries in Asia Pacific have to subsidize people to establish renewable energy system, ”said Mida.
Given increased vulnerability of countries in the Asia-Pacific region owing to worsening impacts of climate change, APNFS calls on governments in the region to prioritize support to building resilient agriculture economies and coastal regions instead of acceding to liberalized trade and investment rules under the WTO and free trade agreements that allow land and water grabbing and plunder of natural resources by transnational corporations.
Because of the above reasons, APNFS calls on governments to stop negotiations for increased liberalization. Moreover it calls on the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region to urge their governments to review, rescind if not end the WTO agreements so that people’s food sovereignty and economic justice will be achieved.
The APNFS is a regional advocacy network that provides relevant analysis on food and agriculture policies and engages governments and the public to promote the right to food and food sovereignty. It consists of the following organizations: Integrated Rural Development Foundation (Philippines), Coastal Development Partnership (Bangladesh), Indonesia Peasant Alliance (API), FIELD, Bina Desa, Indonesia for Global Justice, CSF-CJI (Indonesia Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice), National Union of Farmers in the Philippines (PKMP), PKKK (Rural Women’s Movement in the Philippines),KRUHA, Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation (India).
For more information, please contact:
Arze Glipo : firstname.lastname@example.org
Riza Damanik : +email@example.com
Mida Saragih : +62-81322306673/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Jahangir Masum : +62-82236629514