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Rabu, 28 Januari 2009

On the occasion of the 6th Ministerial Meeting of WTO in Hong Kong: Ministry Meeting in Zurich, Swiss to the VI M

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The news on the meeting of 14 ministers of the countries member of World Trade Organization (WTO) in Zurich, Swiss, in one side can lull the WTO’s members on a great penetration in the negotiation of the world trade liberalization. However, in other side – side of peasants, labors, and other poor societies – this negotiation is not more than a merely formal meeting.

This negotiation was attended by Pascal Lamy, the General Director of WTO having elected last September. It was also attended by the Head of WTO’s Agriculture Commission Negotiator who is also new, Crawford Falconer. The unsurprising moment was that this negotiation was attended by Rob Portman from the USA’s Trade Commission and Peter Mandelson from the European Union Trade Commission.
This case shows that the WTO has still be the target of certain countries’ interest and the peoples’ opinion about WTO is undemocratic organization more steam up. It is proved with the restricted negotiation such as this Zurich meeting. The more trouble is that from the organization side, WTO does not represent the peasants, the industrial and service workers, etc. is is totally out of the WTO negotiation having big stage on three fields: agriculture (AoA), service (GATS), and industry (NAMA).

This meeting satisfied the supporters of liberal trade, signed with the commitment of the countries to continue the negotiation. Moreover, it was added by the USA’s interest to cut the subsidy for its peasants which welcome by the “big players” in WTO: European Union, G-20 (represented by Brazil and India), Japan, and Canada. The big smile also fainted from the liberal trade supporters for the wide-opened market and the cut import tariff.

However, in reality the agriculture in the world is not as beautiful as it wants by the liberal trade of WTO verse. “The prove is that after 10 years Indonesia ratified the WTO’s agreement on agriculture (AoA), the food import has more hurt the peasants,” said Henry Saragih, the General Secretary of FSPI. “I also state this case in order to stop the food import, particularly the rice in Indonesia, such as planned by Bulog and Department of Commerce. The food importing will damage the price and the domestic market, and at the end it will kill the peasants,” he added.

Henry also added that the Indonesian government recently planned to import rice about 250.000 tons was suspected as the trap of the agreement on AoA. This case happened because the market and the trade have to be opened with the liberal agreement in the AoA of the WTO.

In fact, from the studies done by FSPI and La Via Campesina, the market opening proposed by the WTO in the cutting of the import tariff is so irrational. “Logically it is easy, the cheap food import products will flood the domestic market, there will be no protection toward the peasants’ product since the price mechanism is determined by the market and the domestic food market will be ruin,” said Henry.

The subsidy cutting is also irrelevant in the process of protecting the peasants. Subsidy is the right of every country to protect its agriculture, so the WTO as the trade regime does not entitle to force a country to cut the subsidy for the peasants. “Of course, as long as the subsidy given is not the subsidy distorting the international market, which can lead to dumping,” said Henry.

Thus, from the AoA’s agreement, actually the victims are not only the peasants of the underdeveloped and developing countries, imagine what will happen if the subsidy is cut and the market access is widely opened? Henry also added, “the peasants from the well developed countries itself such as European Union (particularly Dutch, Swiss, Norwegian), Japan, Korea, and the United States of America are now suffering and the number keeps decreasing and they are also replaced by the giant transnational agriculture corporations spanning all over the world.”

The Zurich’s negotiation is also believed to be not much impacted on the negotiation development in the WTO, even to face the VI Ministerial Meeting of the WTO in Hong Kong, on the following December. “There is still a gap between the interest of the United States of America and the European Union, and also Japan, which is disturbed by the involvement of G-20.” In addition, Henry said, “at least it is better for the peasants to have the unachieved agreement than achieve it, but more kill the peasants.”

Basically, the WTO’s negotiation in the agriculture field benefits only the neoliberal giant agriculture corporations. “Therefore, 10 years of the WTO are enough for the peasants and the WTO must out of agriculture since agriculture is not commodity,” he added. Indeed, in Indonesia and many other countries, the agriculture is more like the way of life than the sale commodity.

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