From 7th to 9th September took place in Saskatoon, Canada, the 36th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting, where 19 member countries and special guests had the opportunity to discuss the Global Economic Outlook and Agriculture Trade, the Doha Round Negotiations, Fostering Agricultural Trade and Food Security. Peru's delegation was headed by the National Director of Multilateral Affairs and International Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, who presented Peru's agricultural vision and position on key issues, which are summarized below:
The core guideline of the agricultural policies in Peru within the next five years is the reduction of the gaps in competitiveness of Peruvian agriculture with a focus on sustainable development. According to this guideline, the long-term vision of the agricultural sector in Peru is to become one of the leaders in agricultural production in the Pacific coast of South America, based on sustainable development and inclusiveness. Our goals are to achieve an annual agricultural GDP growth of 5% and an annual increase in agricultural exports of 20% in order to promote the inclusion of the Peruvian poorest farmers into the world markets. For reaching this vision and goals, Peru needs a fairer agricultural trading system that could provide real and sustainable benefits for the development of the country, correcting the imbalances caused by restrictions and distorsions in world agricultural markets, such as those created by trade-distorting agricultural measures adopted by some countries. For those reasons, Peru considers that this Ministerial Meeting is an important opportunity to engage and discuss about how the Cairns Group could better contribute to the process of agricultural trade reform with a view to achieve free and fair trade in agriculture that provides real and sustainable benefits for the developing world.
Peru is committed with the multilateral trading system and to a prompt, balanced and successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round. During the last 10 years, Peru has been promoting an ambitious Round, not only in agriculture, but all across the board. We are looking for real and ambitious outcomes in all areas of negotiations, including the three pillars of agriculture. This Round is a great opportunity to promote dynamism to trade, and thus to become an important contributor to growth and development by creating new market access opportunities and fairer trade rules.
Agriculture plays an important and central role for sustainable development and poverty alleviation in rural areas, however we must recognize that it is also one of the most distorted sectors, and requires urgently a deep reform at the multilateral level. Distortions in the world agricultural markets undermine developing countries’ efforts to alleviate poverty through economic reforms and their capacity to ensure social and political stability that will certainly contribute to economic growth and social inclusiveness.
Peru is deeply concerned about the current situation in the Doha Round negotiations. We express our disappointment to the lack of progress and that there is no sufficient political will to bridge the remaining gaps in the negotiations despite intensified work this year. Peru reiterates its urgent call on all WTO Members to bring the Doha Round to a successful, ambitious, balanced and development-oriented conclusion, by working on a DDA workplan after the VIII WTO Ministerial Conference. We are fully convinced that the Cairns Group has a role to continue playing in this regard by engaging in further discussions and negotiations related to the outstanding agricultural issues.
The issue of food security is very important and of great concern to Peru given the current situation of international agricultural markets, where prices remain high and volatile, driven by a diverse range of factors. We fully agree that one of the most efficient ways to tackle food insecurity is producing more, through increased investment and Aid for Trade to improve productivity in agriculture. Trade plays a key role in achieving food security by ensuring efficient allocation of resources. A concrete trade-based response to food security is the conclusion of an ambitious and balanced outcome of the Doha Round, which could ensure increased market access opportunities and the elimination of trade distorting support as well as establish fair disciplines on export competition. Under the current rules of the WTO and its agreements – particularly the Agreement on Agriculture and the SPS Agreement, members should avoid introducing unjustified import and export measures because they have the ability to impact on trade in food and agricultural products in ways which affect those most in need, jeopardizing their food security.
For Peru, it is essential that, in accordance with the provisions of WTO agreements, the adoption of norms related to technical regulations and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, are based on scientific evidence for health risks or safety, life or animal or plant health or the environment. Peru participates actively in the WTO's technical committees responsible for monitoring and supervising the implementation of the SPS and the TBT Agreement because of its implications on market access for agricultural products and foodstuffs. In compliance with the provisions of those agreements, Peru maintains technical regulations and sanitary and phytosanitary measures based on international standards and has established schemes to prevent and avoid unnecessary barriers to trade.
In the SPS Committee, Peru has promoted intensive discussions on topics of interest for Peruvian exports, as the recognition of equivalence, regionalization and measures affecting our agricultural products. In the TBT Committee, Peru has also promoted discussions on measures affecting its exports, particularly unjustified labeling requirements that are not based on relevant international standards. Due to policies aimed at promoting value-added agricultural exports, agricultural products of traditional use in Peru, have grown significantly in the last years. However many of these products has faced market access restrictions. Peru is concerned that this kind of limitations, which are unnecessary, excessive and more trade‑restrictive than required to achieve an appropriate level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection, are directly affecting trade in the traditional products deriving from our mega‑biodiversity, blocking their entry to some key markets. These unjustified and arbitrary restrictions disincentive to the development of promising economic activities, denying the contribution of traditional products to improve health around the world through the consumption of traditional foods with a high nutritional value, addressing food security while improving the income of the poorest sectors of the population engaged in these activities.
Peru considers that the Cairns Group has shown a strong leadership and commitment to open-up the international agricultural trade in a fairer and development-oriented manner, and thus, contributes importantly to our goals of inclusion and poverty reduction. With great and continuous effort, the Cairns Group has played a key role at the WTO negotiations for the liberalization of agricultural trade, working for building-up a rules–based trading system where trade distortions are eliminated and equitable trade becomes an attainable objective, especially for our poorer farmers and micro and small agri-businesses. The Cairns Group has built a reputation in the Multilateral Trading System and has played a key role during the current WTO negotiations for the liberalization of agricultural trade. The wide-range of regions and levels of development, as well as the 25% of the world’s agricultural exports that we represent give us credibility and is the main asset of the Group, which should serve to leverage efforts towards the accomplishment of our objectives. In this opportunity, Cairns Group Ministers are discussing issues related to fostering agricultural trade. In our final declaration, we should send instructions to our officials to examine the issues discussed in this session such as food security and market access challenges, in order to develop appropriate approaches to address them under the WTO structure and under the Doha agriculture negotiations.
Finally, Peru recognizes that the accession of the Russian Federation in the WTO will strengthen the multilateral trading system. Therefore, it strongly supports the process being held in Geneva to resolve outstanding issues in order to finalize it in 2011.