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Apply ‘food crisis blowtorch’ to leaders at Doha talks

21 July 2008

PRESSURE must be put on world leaders to actually do something about the global food crisis, which has seen riots in poorer countries going without food, and huge price hikes in affluent countries, like Australia,” National Farmers Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said ahead of his trade mission to Geneva this week to re-ignite World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha talks.

“The Doha Round of trade liberatisation has repeatedly stalled due to a lack of will of key players, namely the European Union, the United States and several developing countries... often more concerned with playing domestic politics than doing what they know to be in their own, and the world’s, interests.

“It’s time politicians showed some real leadership, not just posturing. This would be a prime opportunity for US presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain to press their leadership credentials to the world at a time of global crisis by getting serious about trade reform.

“Breaking down the artificial barriers of tariffs, subsidies and quotas would allow farmers the world over to meet global food needs… at present, farmers who can produce more food are actively prevented from doing so due to out-dated protectionist dogma.

“It is vital that these real pressures are put to trade ministers in Geneva this week. This will likely be the last chance for any agreement on Doha for several years.”

A recent report: High Food Prices: Causes, Implications and Solutions, by The Centre for International Economics (The CIE) and funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), highlighted the overarching objective of global food policy should be to encourage the system of production, distribution and consumption of food that leads to:

  • the right amount of food of the right type being produced;
  • food is produced in the right places where it is needed; and
  • production and subsequent distribution should be done in a way that makes the best use of the planet’s scarce resources with the least amount of waste and pressure on the environment.

“This should spur trade ministers to find common ground on significantly improving market access, reducing agricultural domestic support (currently at AUS$280 billion in OECD countries) and eliminating agricultural export subsidies,” Mr Crombie added.

“The over-riding issue for Australian farmers is agricultural market access, and we argue that these Doha talks must do more than eliminate export subsidies and reduce domestic support – it will be unacceptable if it doesn’t also create significant and commercially worthwhile new and improved market access opportunities.

“The world should be holding its politicians to account in delivering on these fundamental issues, which would free-up the trade of food across the globe.”

NFF President David Crombie is leading a delegation of Australian agricultural representatives in Geneva this week.

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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