Joint Statement on Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference

By African and Indian CSOs | October 27, 2015

Following is the text of joint statement issued by African and Indian civil society organizations on the upcoming 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, which will take place during December 15-18, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The statement was released on the occasion of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi on October 27, 2015.

We, on behalf of civil society in Africa and India, write to you, the Heads of Governments in Africa’s 54 countries and India as you meet for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) through 26-29th October in New Delhi, India. As you all deliberate on a ‘reinvigorated partnership-shared vision’, we would urge you to consider the common economic, social and environmental challenges that all our countries face, while reminding you of the issues at stake at the forthcoming Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, between December 15-18th this year.

One of the main objectives of the WTO was to create more opportunities for the developing world, and even more so for least developed countries (LDCs), so they could advance their development progress. As a result, the world was to see a more balanced economic and, hopefully, socially just order. However, after twenty years of the WTO, we do not see any materialisation of those promises from global trade rules. In spite of some strengthening of developing country voices, the developed countries and the transnational corporations within them have grown more powerful, strident and aggressive. They have made it clear that they are interested in the WTO only to “take” from and not to “give” to developing countries. The current Director General, Roberto Azevedo, (himself from a developing country) and the WTO Secretariat and it’s functionaries, are taking pro-developed country positions in the desperation to retain WTO’s relevance as a multilateral forum.

In fact, even the WTO’s Doha Development Round, launched in 2001 and mandated to address core development issues faced by the South, continues to see stiff opposition by the developed countries to any concessions for developing countries and to removal of barriers, which could actually enable them to provide better economic and social opportunities to their people. Special and differential (S&D) treatment in agriculture and NAMA, for example through easier terms for tariff cuts, Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) in agriculture, preferential Rules of Origin for LDCs, and most importantly talks on agricultural subsidies, including the crucial issue of cotton subsidies, given by the West have failed to get anywhere. In this context we strongly support the statement made by the Kenyan Foreign Minister, Hon’ble Ms Amina Mohamed on July 1 that the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations cannot be concluded without “credible” developmental outcomes.

It is not only that the WTO is not helping realize development pathways in the South; it is actively threatening development policy space and development-oriented programmes in the developing world. The stiff resistance by the USA, EU, and other developed countries to negotiate a permanent solution to the food security proposal and a development-oriented outcome in agriculture, which is not only of key interest to India and several African countries, but also to many other developing countries, is a clear evidence of this challenge. Agriculture and food, and the ability to continue to produce food, is a core development need in both India and Africa. We would like to also support the position of the Cotton-4 countries on elimination of all subsidies on cotton and Duty-Free-Quota-Free (DFQF) market access to LDCs on cotton and its products, which is of key interest to African countries as well as India.

In NAMA (Non-agricultural market access), the developed countries continue to insist not only on adverse formulas on tariff cuts that will force developing countries to cut more tariffs, but also on “Sectorals or zero-for-zero” where some sectors will see total elimination of tariffs with immediate effect. The NAMA proposals will severely limit domestic industrialization and job creation prospects in Africa and India.

The TRIPS Agreement under the WTO set up intellectual property rights (IPRs) standards which are being pushed through trade rules; it creates barriers to technology development and transfer in developing countries with impacts on access to medicines & health care, key agricultural inputs including seeds varieties and traditional knowledge. However, the TRIPs Agreement had offered some flexibilities to developing countries that could help them protect important development priorities. These flexibilities are now being increasingly challenged. Moreover, the TRIPS waiver for LDCs is continuously under negotiation and is used as a lever to extract other concessions. Now developed countries are opposing amendments to TRIPS Rules to prevent ‘biopiracy’ from Africa, India and several other developing countries.

The current WTO situation presents grave contradictions. Instead of creating spaces to foster growth and development, we see more and more aggressive demands are made of developing countries to prize open their economies on very unfair terms, which would threaten livelihoods, food security, locally beneficial industrialization and beneficiation (local value addition). The current negotiations at the WTO clearly indicate these contradictions, created by the aggressive positioning of the developed countries: pushing a binding Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) while not granting a permanent solution to food security and offering only a “best endeavor” (I will try my best) LDC package; offering no cuts in domestic subsidies but instead asking developing countries to cut subsidies and grant further market access; and blocking TRIPs flexibilities while pushing for higher IPR protection through TRIPs.

Further, the developed countries are creating parallel and aggressive mechanisms through secret negotiations of plurilateral agreements such as Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), Information Technology Agreement-2 (ITA-2), Agreement in Environmental Goods and Services, and bilateral trade and investment agreements all of which thwart the multilateral nature of the WTO.

As you discuss issues of critical importance for us, for your people, at this important Summit, we put on the table the following specific recommendations that civil society in India and across African countries want to put forward to their leaders:

  • Ensure a strong development outcome at the Nairobi MC10 of WTO with significant gains for developing and least developed countries. The “success” of the Ministerial should not be valued in terms of reaching the low hanging fruits, which favours developed countries but one that actually equips developing countries to address key economic, social and environmental needs;
  • The Doha Development Round should not be concluded in Nairobi or later without a meaningful development package and no other round should be launched without addressing the core development issues that the DDR was mandated to address. In particular, the Singapore Issues including government procurement, competition policy, investment and any “new issues” would severely restrict space for implementing development oriented policies and hence should not be touched;
  • Specific deliverables of a development package should include but not be limited to; a permanent solution on the food security proposal that allows essential subsidies to producers for supporting public food stockholding; discussions on domestic subsidies including on cotton subsidies, by the advanced countries like the USA and the EU, an agreement on elimination of export competition, special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing countries in all aspects of agricultural and NAMA negotiations including on tariff cuts and safeguard mechanisms, ‘Biodiversity Amendment’ to the TRIPS Agreement to prevent ‘biopiracy’, and a strong LDC package. On the other hand, further advances in and weakening of the flexibilities of the TRIPs Agreement, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and further talks on plurilaterals and mega regional FTAs should be blocked; and,
  • Conduct the negotiations in a transparent, inclusive and fair manner that truly reflects the multilateral nature of the WTO and not participate in small ‘green room’ discussions and dealings that leave a large number of Member States out of discussions that would critically impact their people and the planet.

India and Africa have played a key role in WTO negotiations, most often supporting strong developing country positions. They have a crucial role to play in this Ministerial. It is of tremendous importance that the WTO Ministerial Conference is being held in Africa. As a strong and articulate advocate of developing country space in the WTO, the African countries, and Kenya in particular, has a responsibility to ensure a balanced and development friendly outcome at the Ministerial. The “success” of the Ministerial will only be a success if it delivers on key development objectives of the South that includes the interests of the people in Africa and India and benefits all people in the developing world. If it can’t, it is of no interest to us.

Working together, India and Africa must ensure our people have access to diversified opportunities for livelihoods, jobs and incomes, healthy food to eat and the ability to produce it locally, have access to adequate services, such as drinking water, health and sanitation, natural resources, and live in a safe and sustainable environment. No trade rules should come in the way of attaining these objectives. The WTO in particular must be allowed only to forward and not to hinder these objectives.

Our leaders must also remember the commitments they made in the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is to “leave no one behind”. They know it will be impossible to follow the principles of this Agenda and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without fair trade rules and other means of implementation. That is why they fought so hard on these issues in these negotiations. But unless they hold strong against pressures and keep reiterating their development priorities and fight for the policy space to realise those, their commitments to the global community and to their own people will be meaningless. The WTO and the Nairobi Ministerial is the place where this commitment must be made real.

As Kenya prepares to host the WTO’s MC10, we urge you to keep in your mind your people and their needs, and not to put trade before people. As all of you prepare to engage with the WTO until December and beyond, you must ask yourselves the questions: What has the WTO done for us so far? What can I gain here that I can justify my engagement with the WTO to my people? What can I take back from Delhi, India that helps us all move trade and development in the right direction?  We are all waiting eagerly to hear the answers from you.

Signatories as on 27 October 2015 

Regional and National organizations from Africa
1 FAHAMU Africa Region
2 ACP Civil Society Forum ACP Region
3 Tax Justice Network Africa (TJN-A) Africa Region
4 Fórum das Organizações Não Governamentais Angolanas (FONGA) Angola
5 Groupe de Recherche et d’Action pour la  Promotion de l’Agriculture et du Développement (GRAPAD) Benin Republic
6 Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO), Botswana
7 Cadre de concertation des OSC pour le suivi du CSLP (CdC/CSLP) Burkina Faso
8 Civil Society Organization Network for Development (RESOCIDE) Burkina Faso
9 Action Développement et. Intégration Régionale (ADIR) Burundi
10 Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN) Cameroon
11 Conseil des ONG Agrees du Cameroun (CONGAC ) Cameroon
12 Global Social Economy Group (GSEG) Cameroon
13 Association Commerciale, Agricole, Industriel et du Service (ACAISA) Cape Verde
14 Conseil Inter ONG En Centrafrique (CIONGCA) Central African Republic
15 Centre d’Information et de Liaison des ONG (CILONG) Chad
16 Conseil de Concertation des ONGs de Développement (CCOD) Congo
17 Conseil National des ONG de Développement (CNONGD) D.R. Congo
18 The Housing and Land Rights Network- Habitat Initiatives Coalition Egypt
19 Forum des ONG pour le Développement Durable (FONGDD) Eq. Guinea
20 Cotonou Task Force Ethiopia
21 Poverty Action Network in Ethiopia (PANE) Ethiopia
22 Concertation Nationale Des Organisations paysannes et des Producteurs (CNOP) Gabon
23 TANGO Gambia
24 Worldview Gambia
25 Agricultural Workers Union of TUC Ghana
26 Abibiman Foundation Ghana
27 Federation de Femmes Enterpreneurs et Affairs de la CEDEAO (FEFA) Guinea
28 Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa (INEI) Guinea-Bissau
29 Alliance Pour la Reconstruction et le Developpement Post-Conflit (ARDPC) Ivory Coast
30 Building Eastern Africa Community Network (BEACOC) Kenya
31 Growth Partners Africa (GPA) Kenya
32 Kenya food Rights Alliance (KeFRA) Kenya
33 Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (KESSFF) Kenya
34 Mazingira Institute Kenya
35 National Council of NGOs Kenya
36 Society for International Development (SID) Kenya
37 The Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Kenya
38 Child Focused CSOs for SDGs Kenya
39 Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) Lesotho
40 West African Women Association (WAWA) Liberia
41 Plate-Forme Nationale des Organisations de la Societe Civile de Madagascar Madagascar
42 Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) Malawi
43 Foundation pour le Developpment au Sahel (FDS) Mali
44 La convergence Malienne contre les accaparements des terres (CMAT) Mali
45 Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS) Mauritius
46 National Forum for Mozambiquan NGOs and CBOs (TEIA) Mozambique
47 Forum da Sociedade Civil para os Direitos da Criança (ROSC) Mozambique
48 Namibia Non-Governmental Organisations Forum Trust Namibia
49 National du Réseau des Ong de Développement et Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et de la Démocratie (RODADDHD), Niger
50 National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) Nigeria
51 Nigeria Network of NGOs Nigeria
52 Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) Nigeria
53 Pelam Rwanda
54 Rwanda Civil Society Platform Rwanda
55 Samoa Umbrella for Non Governmental Organisation (SUNGO) Samoa
56 Forum das Ong de São Tomé e Principe (FONG-STP) Sao Tomé and Principe
57 Plate-forme des acteurs non étatiques pour le suivi de l’Accord de Cotonou au Sénégal Senegal
58 Liaison Unit of the non-governmental organisations of Seychelles -(LUNGOS) Seychelles
59 Civil Society Movement of Sierra Leone Sierra Leone
60 Masifundise and Coastal Links South Africa South Africa
61 South African NGO Council (SANGOCO) South Africa
62 Smile Again Africa Development Org (SAADO) South Sudan
63 Council for NGOs (CANGO) Swaziland
64 Tanzania Association of NGOs Tanzania
65 Groupe d’Action et de Reflexion sur l’Environnement et le Développement (GARED) Togo
66 Consumer Education Trust Uganda
67 The Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda
68 Green Living Movement (GLM) Zambia
69 Zambia Council for Social Development Zambia
70 National Association of NGOs (NANGO) Zimbabwe
71 The Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Zimbabwe

 

 Organizations and Individuals from India
72 Adivasi Women’s Network, Jharkhand India
73 All India Census Employees Association (AICEA) India
74 All India Drug Action Network India
75 All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) India
76 All India National Life Insurance Employees Federation (AINLIEF) India
77 All India Women’s Conference India
78 Aman Biradari India
79 Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) India
80 Asia Pacific Farmers Forum, India Chapter India
81 Association for Promotion of Sustainable Development India
82 Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (BKS) India
83 Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) India
84 Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON) India
85 Centre for Equity Studies India
86 Centre for Organisation Research & Education,  Manipur India
87 Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) India
88 CNS (Citizen News Service) India
89 Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) India
90 CREATE, Tamilnadu India
91 Delhi Science Forum India
92 Diverse Women for Diversity India
93 Drug Action Forum, Karnataka India
94 East Coast Fish Workers Union in India India
95 ED -EMPOWER INDIA India
96 Family Planning Association India
97 Farmcare Foundation India
98 Focus on the Global South India
99 Food Sovereignty Alliance India
100 Forum Against FTAs
101 Freedom Foundation-India India
102 Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS), Jaipur India
103 ICCO COOPERATION, India, South & Central Asia Regional Office India
104 India FDI Watch India
105 Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF India
106 Initiative for Health & Equity in Society India
107 IT for Change India
108 Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) India
109 Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Orissa India
110 Janpahal India
111 Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedhi, Kerala India
112 Krityanand UNESCO Club, Jamshedpur India
113 Madhyam India
114 Mahila Dakshata Samiti India
115 Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union India
116 National Center for Labour (NCL) India
117 National Child Rights Coalition India
118 National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements India
119 National Organisation of Government Employees (NOGE) India
120 National Working Group on Patent Laws and WTO India
121 Navdanya India
122 New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) India
123 Organic Farmers’ Market, Chennai India
124 Pairvi India
125 Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti (PBKMS) India
126 Programme on Women’s Economic, Social, Cultural Rights (PWESCR) India
127 Public Services International, Asia and the Pacific India
128 Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh India
129 Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology India
130 Restore Gardens, Chennai India
131 Right to Food Campaign India
132 Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telanga and Andhra Pradesh India
133 Safe food Alliance, Tamilnadu India
134 Samanvaya, Tamilnadu India
135 Sathi All for Partnerships India
136 Save our Rice Campaign India
137 Socialist Party (India) India
138 SOIL India
139 South Asia Food sovereignty Network, Kolkata Secretariat India
140 South Asia Peasants Coalition, India Chapter India
141 South Solidarity Initiative, Action Aid India India
142 SPREAD, Koraput India
143 Sunray Harvesters, M.P. India
144 Swadeshi Andolan India
145 SWALA (an association of 274 custodian farmers), Jharkhand India
146 Tamilnadu  Women’s  Forum India
147 Thanal, Kerala India
148 Tharchaarbu Iyakkam, Sirkali, Tamilnadu India
149 The Hawkers Federation India
150 The India Alliance for Child Rights India
151 The National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) India
152 Third World Network India
153 Toxics Watch Alliance India
154 Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata India
155 Voluntary Health Association, Punjab (VHAP) India
156 Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA) India
157 Water Initiatives Odisha  (WIO) India
158 WFF Asia Coordination Committee India
159 Women 2030, India
160 Women’s Coalition Trust India
161 Womens Collective India
162 World Forum of Fisher Peoples India
163 Zo Indigenous Forum, Mizoram India
Individual endorsements
164 Asad Ashraf, Journalist India
165 Dr. Ashok Ray, Visiting Fellow, OKDISCD Guwahati India
166 B.C. Pande, Gyan Vigyan Samithi India
167 Daksha Vaja, Gujarat India
168 Daljit Ami, Journalist India
169 Dr  Shakeel,Centre for Health & Resource Management(CHARM) Bihar India
170 Dr Kuntal Biswas, Registrar Medical College Hospital Kolkatta India
171 Dr Mohan Rao, Professor Centre for Social Medicine & community Health India
172 Dr Narendra Gupta, Prayas, Rajasthan India
173 Dr Pyara Lal Garg Former Professor Surgery , Punjab India
174 Dr. Ambrose Pinto SJ, Principal, St. Aloysius College, Bangalore India
175 Dr. Biswajit Dhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University India
176 Dr. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Centre for Economic Studies & Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi India
177 Dr. Govind Kelkar, Landesa India
178 Dr. Harbagh Singh, Neurologist India
179 Dr. Kamal Nayan Kabra, Economist India
180 Dr. Murali Kallummal, Consultant, IIFt, New Delhi India
181 Dr. Nitya Nanda, Fellow, TERI India
182 Dr. Pyara Lal Garg, Former Professor India
183 Dr. Smitha Francis, Adjunct Faculty, Ambedkar University, New Delhi India
184 Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari Trust India
185 Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships India
186 Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher, New Delhi India
187 Dr. Indira Hirway, Director and Professor of Economics, Center For Development Alternatives, Gujarat India
188 Dr. B. Krishnamurthy, Professor & Head, Centre for European Studies, Pondicherry University India
189 Dr B Ekbal Neurosurgeon former  Vice Chancellor, University of Kerala India
190 Uma Shankari. Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh India

 

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