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Letter To Call for End of Five Interested Parties (FIPS) Process in Agriculture

This letter was sent to the Heads of Delegations, the Chair of the Agriculture negotiations, the Chair of the General Council and to Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, WTO Director General.

6th May 2005

Open Letter For a More Inclusive And Transparent Process in Agriculture Negotiations

Dear Ambassador,

Given recent reports on the consultations taking place on agriculture, we are writing to you to express our concern at the negotiating process.

We are particularly disturbed that the consultations to restart the agriculture negotiations are held amongst only five countries – the US, the EC, Australia, Brazil and India - despite the fact that agriculture is such a vital concern for most developing countries. We feel that the formation of the Five Interested Parties is one more arbitrary step in the trend towards greater non-transparency in the WTO that is mistakenly justified in the name of “effective negotiations.” A negotiating process that marginalizes the majority of the membership can in no way be regarded as effective. Furthermore, the EC’s sudden expression of unhappiness with the lack of an inclusive process comes late and looks much more like a tactical move to get support for its defensive position on the AVE (Ad valorem equivalents) issue, rather than an expression of a real commitment to inclusiveness and transparency.

We call for the ending of the FIPS process and urge the Chair of the Agriculture negotiations to ensure that ALL members participate in an effective manner in the negotiating process; this means adequate and timely consultations must be held not only with the representatives of the Five Interested Parties (EC, US, Australia representing the Cairns Group as well as Brasil and India representing the G20), but with the representatives from the G33, G10, ACP Countries, LDCs, African Group and all others that have expressed their interest.

The negotiating process must be designed in a way that takes into account each member’s resources. For a country with a large mission in Geneva and strong support in their capital, proposals coming out of the negotiating groups can be analyzed quickly and assessed for any potential positive and negative effects on domestic interests. However, many developing countries do not have a large team that facilitates a quick response. The prevalence of short timelines to consider highly technical proposals is contributing to a situation in which many countries are pushed into agreements that may not serve their interests. This happened in the Uruguay Round, and WTO members (and their people) are still living with the damaging results. This must not happen again.

The Chair of the Agriculture negotiations and the WTO Secretariat have the responsibility to design the negotiation process to include all members. We call on the WTO Secretariat to ensure that written reports are made available in a timely manner to all members in the three WTO languages to ensure that proper communication with their staff in Geneva and the capital is possible for all members.

Given the importance of agriculture to low and middle income countries and to family farmers and agricultural workers around the world, we believe that the consultation process must be inclusive and ensure that all delegations can actively participate in the consensus-building process. Only an inclusive process will guarantee that the concerns of all members are adequately taken into account. The exclusion of the majority makes a mockery of the claims that this institution is member-driven and democratic.

If negotiations do not move in this direction, we call upon developing countries to seriously consider whether and how the negotiations should continue. The employment and livelihoods of millions of people in the developing world are at stake. We welcome any opportunity to clarify these views further and would appreciate a response to our letter.


Southern and Eastern African Trade and Information Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)

Focus on the Global South

Action Aid International

Action Aid Kenya

Bridge Africa, Kenya

EcoNews Africa, Kenya

Institute for Global Justice, Indonesia

WTO Watch Group, Pakistan

Consumer Information Network CIN, Kenya

Trade Justice Campaigners, Kenya

Sustainable Agriculture Action Group (SAAG), Pakistan

REBRIP, Brazil

FASE, Brazil

ILSA, Colombia

Fuerza Bolivariana de Trabajadores de Venezuela

Unión Nacional de Trabajadores, Venezuela

Red Sinti Techan, El Salvador

Unidad ecologica Salvadorena (UNES), El Salvador

Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), Mexico

Encuentro Popular, Costa Rica

RECALCA, Colombia

Movimiento Salvacion Agropecuaria, Colombia

Fundacion Solon, Bolivia

World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers

International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF)

Jesuit Hakimani Centre, Kenya

Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh

Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security, India

International Gender and Trade Network (IGTN)

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), US

Public Citizen, US

Oxfam International

Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), US

Coordination Internationale pour le Developpement et la Solidarite (CIDSE)

Caritas Internationalis

Council of Canadians

Missionary Oblates/USA

Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE)

Agir Ici, France

Coordination Sud, France

Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland

Stop the New Round Coalition, Philippines

WEMOS, Netherlands

Institute for Global Networking Information and Studies (IGNIS), Norway

Research and Technological Exchange Group - GRET, France

Church Development Service (EED), Germany

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network – AFTINET, Australia

Center of Concern, US

World Development Movement, UK

The Oakland Institute, US

Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Brussels

ROBA dell’Altro Mondo – Fair Trade, Italy

Canadian Council for International Cooperation

Begegnungszentrum fuer aktive Gewaltlosigkeit, Austria

Association for Sustainable Development (ADD) Médenine, Tunisia

Wervel, Belgium

Central and Eastern European Network for Gender Issues

Association for the Creative Thinking and Acting (Drustvo za ustvarjalno misljenje in delovanje), Slovenia

Forum za levico, Slovenia

Campagna per la riforma della Banca mondiale (CRBM), Italy

Initiative Colibri, Germany

War on Want, UK

Advocacy and Monitoring Network on Sustainable Development, Japan

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, US

Attac Germany, Working Group on International Trade, Germany