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Bali

Grassroots groups, advocates demand dismantling of WTO

BALI, Indonesia – As part of the People’s Global Camp (PGC) activities on December 5, the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) in cooperation with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) successfully organized a workshop titled “Neoliberal Trends and Analysis in Agriculture : A workshop on People’s Collective Responses Against the WTO.”

A total of 39 representatives from 23 organizations converged at the GOR Ngurah Rai Sports Center in Bali to participate in the said event. In line with the PGC objective, the side-event served as a protest against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 9th Ministerial Conference (MC9). The workshop highlighted the people’s opposition to the continuing plunder of resources through WTO policies in agriculture.

Rahmat Ajiguna, Secretary General of Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA), welcomed participants warmly and enjoined everyone in strengthening the people’s movement against the WTO.

Ajiguna’s fiery speech was followed by Antonio Tujan Jr, Director of IBON International and global co-chair of PCFS. Tujan discussed in detail how the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) worsened the plight of small-scale food producers in developing countries. The AoA was signed and sealed in 1995 on the establishment of the WTO and also evolved further at the Doha Round.

Tujan reemphasized the exploitative mechanisms embedded in the AoA and its role in increasing the debt burden of local farmers with the removal of domestic subsidies and the imposition of the Market Access Clause. According to him, the Bali Package will reopen the Doha Round of Negotiations. The G33 proposal to the 9th Ministerial Conference was highly criticized and not worth consideration as the farmers’ position remains Junk WTO.

The discussion on AoA was followed by the sharing of experiences from the local level on the impacts of the WTO and its policies. Dr. Azra Sayeed, Director of Roots for Equity and global co-chair of PCFS and Chennaiah Poguri from the Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) discussed the state of agriculture in Pakistan and India respectively in the context of AoA. Both of them highlighted the miserable conditions of peasants in their communities as a result of the WTO agreements.

Both highlighted the heavy debt burden of farmers because of elimination of subsidies to farmers leading to rising suicide rate among Indian farmers.

Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano, Chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) discussed the Filipino people’s struggles and collective responses against the WTO. Mariano shared the mass struggles led by peasant organizations in the Philippines even before the establishment of the WTO. He also mentioned the need for people to assert their right to self-organization and the imperative for the masses to know their right to food sovereignty. Food sovereignty can only be achieved through genuine land reform and the promotion of agricultural policies that allow peasants and farmers to become self-reliant.

After the presentations, an open forum was held to facilitate the workshop recommendation paper that was later on presented by Wali Haider from Roots for Equity and also the PCFS Regional Focal Person for Asia. The representatives of different organizations who have attended the workshop demanded to end the WTO and neoliberal globalization. They also agreed to strengthen and unite the people’s solidarity against WTO.

The workshop ended with the strong unity to junk the WTO. Reforming the WTO is tantamount to giving the 18-year old trade institution the opportunity to revive its credibility and further strengthen itself in implementing legally binding neoliberal policies. The demand was Food Sovereignty Now !. No doubt that is only possible through the collective struggle of the peasants against the WTO and neoliberal globalization.


P.-S.

The People’s Coalition on Food Soveriegnty (PCFS) is a global network of various grassroots groups of small food producers particularly of peasant-farmer organizations and their support NGOs, working towards a People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty. The network has regional offices in Manila, La Paz and Nairobi.


Les opinions exprimées et les arguments avancés dans cet article demeurent l'entière responsabilité de l'auteur-e et ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux du CETRI.