GENEVA: Agriculture remains a sticky point in the world trade negotiations once again. Minister Thoko Didiza believes that the resuscitation of the Agriculture Round of negotiation is critical. Most importantly, it is and should be about disciplining domestic support that distorts trade, which is what developing countries, including South Africa have been subjected to over the years.
Minister Didiza opines that the current draft text on Agriculture creates a basis for agreeing to a work program for the next Ministerial Conference.
“It is important that the revival of the agriculture negotiation must not undo or dilute the gains that had been made in the previous rounds of negotiations, especially relating to support for resource poor and rural farmers as in Article 6.2 of the current Agreement on Agriculture”, said Minister Didiza
“It is important to ensure that the policy space for developing countries to develop agriculture in their countries is maintained”
Minister Didiza says the sequencing on the negotiations remains important in order to ensure that we do not find ourselves starting all over as though we are beginning the negotiations.
There are currently topical areas such as Public Stock holding( PSH). This measure is currently used as a domestic food security measure. The current debate is for exploring a provision that will allow for PSH to be allowed for exports to assist in humanitarian interventions to address food insecurity. “If there is an agreement in this area, it will allow for export of PSH stock to Least Developed Countries and Net Food Importing Developing Countries”.
- As South Africa we believe this matter must be negotiated and clarified on how such measures can be used within the WTO rules with safeguards said Minister Didiza
“I understand the fears that PSH may bring as a result of domestic support given to farmers and therefore selling these stocks in open markets without safeguards may distort the market said Minister Didiza
“The discussions on Agriculture are proceeding and South Africa will continue to advocate for a work program that will pave way for negotiation”