JAKARTA, SAWIT INDONESIA – The member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) need to immediately realize their political will to agree on a multilateral trade agreement in order to protect the interests of poor and small farmers.

The upcoming 11th WTO’s Ministerial Conference (KTM) in Buenos Aires, December 2017 is expected to be able to agree on two important trading instruments, namely Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes (PSH) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM).

Thus affirmed by the Deputy Permanent Representative of RI II to Geneva, Ambassador Sondang Anggraini, in the hearing of the Committee on Agriculture Special Session (COASS) – WTO on 19 and 20 July, 2017. COASS is one of WTO forums discussing the reform efforts of multilateral trade rules that regulates the trade in global agricultural products.

In the midst of a strong liberalization of trade in global agricultural products, Indonesia, as G33’s coordinator consisting of 47 developing and under-developed countries, consistently strives for PSH and SSM to be agreed to being  an effective instrument in order to achieve food security, livelihood security and rural development.

If agreed upon, PSH will provide policy space for developing and underdeveloped countries to continue to provide support to small and poor farmers through purchasing rice for stocks at a price above market prices and distributing it to the poor at a subsidized price.

As for SSM, it  can be used as protection instrument of the domestic market from the possibility of exceeding imported agricultural products that could harm the interests of poor and small farmers. Under current WTO trade rules, the use of both instruments is severely restricted and considered inadequate.

For the national interest, these two instruments will certainly be very useful as one of the Government of Indonesia’s efforts in improving the livelihood level of poor and small farmers, the number of  which is  increasingly growing. Based on the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) data in March 2017, there were 27.77 million poor people or 10.64% of the total population of Indonesia. More than 50% of the poor work in the agricultural sector.

“The approval of PSH and SSM issues has been one of the priority agendas for Indonesia in WTO’s hearings, especially in following up Doha Development Agenda and the various Ministerial Decrees produced in KTM Hong Kong, KTM Bali and KTM Nairobi” explained Ambassador Hasan Kleib, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN, WTO and other International Organizations in Geneva, at a seminar on PSH and SSM issues in WTO in Geneva some time ago.

Nevertheless, the efforts to reach an agreement on PSH and SSM issues will not be easy given that there are still arguments from a number of WTO members, especially developed countries and exporting countries who are concerned that the two instruments will adversely impact the flow of international trade. It is confirmed that all WTO members will be intensively involved in the negotiation process to agree on both issues in KTM Buenos Aires. (Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia)



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