Jakarta, 20 November 2017. Indonesian Civil Society Group consisting of Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ), Bina Desa and Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI) assessed that the failure of Indonesia’s appealed against United States and New Zealand in The Appellate Body WTO proved that WTO free trade agreements and its dispute resolution scheme were not made to provide protection and justice for small Indonesian farmers. In fact, free trade agreement system strengthens the monopoly of importers and industrialized countries.
Therefore, IGJ, Bina Desa and SPI urge the Government of Indonesia to immediately revoke the adverse commitments and not to commit to the new WTO commitment.
On 9 November 2017, the Appellate Body WTO decided that Indonesia’s policy of imports restrictions on horticultural, animal products and its derivatives was inconsistent with the regulation of GATT 1994, especially in relation with Article 11 paragraph (1) of the GATT on General Elimination on qualitative restriction. In this case, the Appellate Body WTO Panel requested Indonesia to act consistently with GATT 1994. The Appellate Body WTO Panel’s decision reinforces the previous WTO Panel decree decided on December 22, 2016.
Executive Director of IGJ, Rachmi Hertanti, stated that according to the WTO rules, Indonesia have to immediately make an adjustments to its national policy with GATT rules within a reasonable time period. If not, then Indonesia should compensate New Zealand and United States of which the amount is mutually agreed upon. If there is no agreement reached on the compensation, New Zealand and the United States may request to the DSB of WTO to submit retaliation to Indonesia.
“Surely, the case will have a big impact on food policy in Indonesia. The adjustment of Indonesian food policy with GATT 1994 rules will be contrary with the spirit of food sovereignty and deprive the farmers’ welfare “, Rachmi said.
The Head of Foreign Affairs Department of Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI), Zainal Arifin Fuad, stated that farmers in Indonesia are already in the poverty line, with one of its indicator is the low of Farmer’s Exchange Rate (NTP). “If you are still a member of WTO, farmers are likely to become poorer, because it can be assure that domestic agricultural products are flooded with imported products, especially from New Zealand and the United States, which are the most dominant countries in filing a lawsuit to WTO”.
The case is clearly disrupts the sovereignty of the state which is reflected in Law no. 18/2012 on Food as a goodwill of government to achived food sovereignty. ” It is time for Indonesia to withdraw from the WTO, especially after the WTO Appellate Body rejected the appeal of Indonesia “, Zainal’s continued.
Achmad Yakub from Bina Desa explained that under the Food law, both Government from central to district/municipality have their obligation to fulfill food resilience, independence and sovereignty. It means that it is impossible to devolve the importance of food as national security to the mechanism of the WTO agreement which is known extremely pro-market, and fundamentally harming our farmers and economy.
The WTO MC 11th
IGJ, Bina Desa and SPI also urge the Government of Indonesia to not make commitments that harm Indonesia in the 11th round of WTO Ministerial Conference (MC 11th of WTO) that will be held in Argentina on 10-15 December 2017.
“The interests of small farmers of Indonesia should be prioritized rather than new issues that will be initiated by developed countries such as E-commerce and investment facilitation. The position of Indonesia on agriculture issue negotiation should be stood up for small farmers in Indonesia, if it is not achieved, then Indonesia’s commitment in the WTO should be questioned immediately, ” Rachmi said.
The MC 11th of WTO will be the most important round of negotiation because it is the final period to decide permanent solution on Public stockholding for food security proposal that suspended in the MC 9th of WTO in Bali last 2013.
Moreover, in the MC 11th of WTO will be urged to resolve the Doha issues that were “forgotten” in the MC 10th of WTO on behalf of the developed countries interest who want to ensure that the discussion of Singapore issues could be immediately agreed in the WTO.
The Head of Foreign Affairs Department of Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI), Zainal Arifin Fuad, stated that one of the agenda under consideration of the MC 11th of WTO is Public Stock Holding. SPI considers that this discussion will clearly threaten food sovereignty-one of them is by turning off the function of the Indonesian Logistic of Bureau (BULOG) which has also distorted its function because of IMF and World Bank’s insistence at the end of the new period era. “So that, the way to create food sovereignty is that agriculture should be removed from the WTO”, Zainal said.
Achmad Yakub from Bina Desa stated “Considering to the decades experience in the unproductive WTO negotiation, it is proper that the Indonesian government encourages alternative social justice cooperation in the next MC 11th of WTO”. We as a nation are actually having experience in encouraging cultural, political economy cooperation accordance to the spirit of 1955 Asian-African Conference, said Yakub.
In adding to the public stock holding issue, developing countries such as India, Indonesia, China, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco on behalf of African countries, Rwanda represents the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, also Benin, urged that special and differential treatment issue including the development agenda issue under the Doha Work Program should be the priority agenda on the MC 11th of WTO. Critical note from developing country for the MC 11th of WTO will also relate to the rejection of regional and plurilateral agreements to be included into the WTO architecture. *
For more information, please contact:
Zainal Arifin Fuad, Head of Foreign Affairs Department of SPI: 081289321398
Achmad Jacob, Activist at Bina Desa: 0817712347
Rachmi Hertanti, Executive Director of IGJ: 0817-4985180