Developing Countries Should Be Able To Shield Their Markets From Cheap Food Imports, Panel Says 30/09/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)In the temple of international trade and globalisation, a group of speakers called for developing countries to protect themselves against dumping of food products from developed countries. WTO On the first day of the World Trade Organization Public Forum, which took place from 27-29 September, a panel organised by Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS), and The Right to Food campaign, looked at ways to reduce hunger and achieving the right to food in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In particular, the panel considered the possibility of developing countries investing in domestic production for food security. Ranja Sengupta, senior researcher for the Third World Network in India, said western subsidies in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are huge and rather than being reduced as promised, have actually gone up. Much criticised subsidies in emerging economies remain small compared to advanced country subsidies, she said. Sengupta mentioned the “peace clause” in the WTO Agreement in Agriculture, shielding domestic agricultural subsidies from WTO disputes, but said it was inadequate for several reasons, the first of which is that it is limited to existing programmes, and is a temporary measure. She mentioned a 14 September dispute brought on by the United States against China’s domestic support measures in the agriculture sector. According to Sengupta, those subsidies should have been covered by the peace clause, but the US said conditions of the peace clause were not met. The peace clause is not good enough for permanent solution, she said, calling for a safeguard mechanism so that countries can subsidise domestic food production to feed their populations. Jane Nalunga, country director, Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) in Uganda, said diminishing food production and productivity in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most important issues for food insecurity. Countries need to be able to protect their agriculture from cheap imports and dumping, she said. Import surges affect local production and that is critical because of the fragility of production in Africa, she said. There is also a discrepancy between WTO policies and policies found in financial institutions and free trade agreements. WTO may allow certain protection, but institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund might have different rules. According to Nalunga, some FTAs might allow sensitive products to be protected, but she gave the example of cassava, which is considered as a sensitive product, but not cassava starch, which would represent a value addition of cassava. Leopold Lokossou, president of the National Platform of Professional Agricultural Organizations of Benin (PNOPPA), also called for the protection of local food markets to achieve food security. Food producers need to make a living out of what they grow or produce, and they cannot meet competition from cheap imported products. Letting those cheap imports coming onto local market is like putting a rock and an egg in the same bag, he said. Aksel Naerstad, international co-coordinator, More and Better Network, Norway, concurred and said although international trade is needed, it should not damage local production. A participant in the audience remarked on the fact that intellectual property was almost absent from the 101 panels of the Public Forum this year. She said there is a need to think outside the box and consider for example the case of plant variety protection, and understand the linkage between IP, trade and investment. Naerstad and Nalunga both said IP is of critical importance in the issue of access to seeds and farmers’ right. Naerstad mentioned the Global Consultation on Farmers’ Rights, taking place from 27-30 September in Bali, Indonesia. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Developing Countries Should Be Able To Shield Their Markets From Cheap Food Imports, Panel Says" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.