Ministerial meeting of G-20 concluded on Saturday, emphasising the need of developing nations to garner collective strength to eliminate the practices of a small group of rich nations, providing huge amounts of support to their farmers, depressing prices and gaining undue market share at the cost of billions of farmers across the developing countries. Billing 'Agriculture' as critical to the economy and society of most developing countries, the Meet said the realisation of true potential of the agriculture sector in developing states has been impeded for far too long by the multiplicity of distorting practices on products that are of export interest to them.
At the concluding session of two-day Ministerial Meeting of G-20 here, a declaration was adopted with focus on putting an end to trade-distorting policies in agriculture maintained by developed countries.
Later Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath along with Ministers of other G-20 member states briefed the media about salient features of the Declaration and threadbare negotiations held during the two-day parleys.
Minister for Commerce Humanyun Akhtar represented Pakistan at the two-day Ministerial Meeting of the G-20. He also addressed 'Business Interaction Meet' on the margins of the G-20 Ministerial Meet, organised by FICCI, CCI, ASSOCHAM and PHDCCI--India's giant business bodies.
The Ministerial Meet took stock of the status of negotiations on agriculture in the WTO. The meeting noted that there has been useful momentum in the negotiations more recently.
"Our common goal is to put an end to trade-distorting policies in agriculture maintained by developed countries, thus contributing to growth and development of developing countries and their positive integration into the world trading system," observed the meeting, adding that this would be major contribution to the development objectives of the Round.
The declaration articulates the common strategy and position evolved by member countries during the two-day meet, saying that Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to progress in the Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations in 2005 with a view to arriving at an Agreement on the modalities for negotiations during the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the WTO scheduled to be held in Hong Kong in December 2005.
The G-20 Meeting held at New Delhi included the Group Co-ordinators of Broad-based developing country alliances, namely, the G-33 alliance on special products and SSM, the Africa group, the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries, the Caribbean community, and the Least Developed Countries as observers.
The Ministerial Meet called for substantial reductions in trade distorting domestic support by developed countries and elimination of all export subsidies in the field of agriculture within five years, with front-loading of commitments.
The declaration said that in order to fulfil the mandate of substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, negotiations should determine base periods and initial and final numbers for the overall trade-distorting domestic support in a technically consistent and politically credible manner.
On the critical issue of Market Access, the Ministers reaffirmed the long-held view of the G-20 that tariff reduction formula is the main component of the market access pillar and should be negotiated before addressing the issue of flexibility.
They also stressed that special and differential treatment for developing countries must constitute an integral part of all elements with a view to preserving food security, rural development and livelihood concerns of millions of people who depend on the agriculture sector.
The Ministers underlined that the elimination of tariff escalation is important for developing countries, as it would allow them to diversify and increase their export revenues by adding value to their agricultural production.
The G-20 noted with concern the increasing use of non-tariff barriers by developed countries, which are acting as impediments to export to products of interest to developing countries.
Underscoring the importance of cotton for many WTO members, particularly the African countries which are producers of cotton, they stressed the urgent need for expediting work in the sub-committee on Cotton.
The Ministers recalled that modalities for fullest liberalisation of tropical products by developed countries are long-overdue commitments, which remain to be addressed and honoured.
Without creating any new categories of developing countries, the Ministers agreed that the concerns of small, vulnerable economies must also be effectively addressed as part of the Work Programme mandated in paragraph 35 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
They resolved to stay in close contact with each other to take stock of important developments with a view to taking co-ordinated and timely action in the negotiations.
The Ministers further agreed that G-20 Ministers participating in other events would take these opportunities to meet among themselves on the sidelines of such meetings and keep their colleagues informed of the deliberations.