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Rethink Time on Agriculture and Hunger, says Oxfam

28 November
For immediate release

Rethink Time on Agriculture and Hunger, says Oxfam

Jim Sutton, Minister for Trade Negotiations, is currently chairing a major meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). But, as chair, he is sending out the wrong message.

Thursday’s [27 November] statement from the Minister’s office about the meeting raises serious concerns, says Barry Coates, Executive Director of international development agency Oxfam New Zealand. “The Minister has simply repeated what New Zealand, Australia and other rich countries said at the failed WTO Ministerial in Cancun, namely that poor countries should open their markets to agricultural imports ‘for their own good’, despite evidence from the FAO that this is contributing to worsening hunger in some countries.” In a report just released, the FAO cites examples of the problems that arise when countries are required to liberalise without properly regulated markets, rural credit, adequate transport or other infrastructure.

The discussions at the FAO are a crucial opportunity to find a way to kick-start the deadlocked negotiations on agriculture that have stalled progress in the WTO. “For the first time in 48 years, NZ is chair at the FAO. I urge Minister Sutton to use the role to take another look at what developing countries are saying about their need to control the pace and extent of reforms in their agriculture sectors” says Coates. “Adequately addressing the issue of special and differential treatment for poor countries is the key to moving forward on the Doha Development Agenda and there is now a golden opportunity to do just that, in our o