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Cablegate: French Meeting On Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa Focuses

VZCZCXRO3551
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #2319/01 3581359
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231359Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5130
RUEHRC/DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0013
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1654
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2976

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002319

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

WHITE HOUSE FOR USTR
USDA FOR ONA/RIEMENSCHNIEDER; OCRA/HALE; OCBD/SHEIKH

E.O. 19523: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR EAID FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH MEETING ON AGRICULTURE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA FOCUSES
ON REGIONAL MARKETS

REF: UN ROME 97

PARIS 00002319 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: The French EU Presidency hosted a December 8
high-level meeting on Investing for Agriculture in Sub-Saharan
Africa. The following day, a seminar on West African regional
agricultural policy launched discussion of a regional agricultural
policy (ECOWAP) modeled on the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
The forum was attended by a number of Western African agricultural
ministers with the stated aim of developing further collaboration
between West Africa and the international community on agriculture
and food. The G8 Global Partnership for Food and Agriculture (GPAF)
initiative was raised only tangentially. French Ag Minister Barnier
used the meeting to underscore French support for increased
regionalization and regulation of agricultural trade. End summary.


Investing in Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa
- - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State for Cooperation and for
Francophone Countries, opened the meeting with the announcement that
the EU would contribute EURO one billion in aid to developing
countries over a three-year period. (Note: This money became
available due to lower-than-projected EU agricultural spending due
to unusually high commodity prices in 2007. France, among others,
initially resisted the diversion of money from this fund for other
purposes because it didn't want to set a precedent for doing so. End
note.) He emphasized that the current financial crisis and lower
commodity prices in 2008 are not excuses for inaction and that the
urban poor are particularly vulnerable. While aid has historically
been oriented toward the extraction of primary materials rather than
local food security, he said, it should be reoriented. He
underscored the need to move to more sustainable investment
strategies, which should take into account climate change, land
tenure issues and insufficient financing, by forming a complex
partnership (Note: He did not refer to the GPAF explicitly. End
note.)

3. (SBU) Subsequent panels, consisting largely of representatives of
Africa-based institutions, focused on sectoral investment needs in
West Africa, private and public financing opportunities for
agricultural infrastructure and business environment issues. In the
closing roundtable, Minister Joyandet's Chief of Staff Jean-Marc
Chataigner said the discussion reflected the French vision for the
G8 Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food. France wanted
"representatives from all sectors to come together in a common
effort." Among Chataigner's take-away messages: it is critical to
get out of the "model of 20 years ago," strong public/private
cooperation is feasible and necessary; rural development issues
cannot be viewed in isolation from overall development goals, an
integrated approach is critical; long-term engagement is important,
the international community must not see this as a one-off crisis.
UN High Level Task Force Coordinator David Nabarro emphasized that
the HLT was "engaging with those establishing the GPAF to support
their efforts."

The West-African Regional Agricultural Policy
- - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) Day two featured a series of speakers discussing
implementation of the ECOWAS regional agricultural policy (ECOWAP).
Most lauded ECOWAP goals of creating a regional market that could
satisfy internal demand and reduce food "dependency." The region's
growth model is "no longer viable," with a bottoming out of
productivity and rapid degradation of arable land. ECOWAP's
regional approach - "a regional offensive for food production" -- is
the correct response. The region featured a high degree of
complementarity between production and demand areas, and authorities
need to create an internal market based on regional preferences. An
effective ECOWAP would better regulate supply and demand, and better
position ECOWAS on the world stage. The effort should be based on a
"post-structural adjustment" approach that includes strong
regulation of agricultural markets. This did not mean a return to
the regulatory structures of the past, however.

5. (SBU) Agricultural Minister Michel Barnier closed the two-day
session, reminding the participants of the conference, "Who will
Feed the World?" which was held at the beginning of the French EU
presidency. He praised regional integration under ECOWAS, which he
encouraged to emulate the EU model. He spoke disparagingly about
efforts to revive the Doha negotiations, asserting the ACP countries

PARIS 00002319 002.2 OF 002


would be "the losers" in a final accord. Asserting that he would
never leave agricultural policy to the free market, he stressed that
regional entities need to find the right level of protection and
regulation in order to promote "regional preference," which is what
allowed the EU to reduce its dependence on imports. He concluded
that he hoped the Euro one billion would be allocated by the end of
the year and that it would not be channeled by international
organizations, but rather directly into projects in the field.

6. (SBU) Comment: Barnier has been widely quoted as blaming the
world food crisis on the international trading system and using this
as a pretext to call for both increased regionalization and
regulation of agricultural trade. It appears that France, finding
limited receptivity to this point of view within the EC, is now
taking its case to developing countries. Reftel description of a
French NGO presentation at FAO of a (reportedly GOF-backed)
initiative to combat price volatility through an interventionist
agricultural trade model provides additional evidence of this
strategy.

PEKALA

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