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July 27, 2008

Philippines: Farmers’ group said WTO process is non-transparent
Filipino farmers belonging to the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) and National Rice Farmers Council (NRFC) on Thursday criticised the ongoing process of the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week in Geneva as non-transparent saying only the US, European Union, Canada, Japan, India, Brazil and China were involved.

"This should not be called a "development round" if only a few countries are deciding on the outcome of a trade deal that will greatly affect the livelihood of billions of poor people around the world," the Philippines News Agency (PNA) quoted Jaime Tadeo, Chairperson of NRFC, as saying.

Tadeo said it is disheartening to see Heads of Trade Delegations merely waiting for the results of these informal meetings of a few selected countries.

He criticised efforts to ram through a farm deal this week while major disagreements pervade in the negotiations in agriculture and non-agriculture market access, two major sections of the WTO agreement.

WTO Director General Pascal Lamy called for open-ended negotiations this week to break the impasse in the Doha Development Round. Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and Chief Trade Negotiator Secretary Peter Favila did not attend the Geneva meeting.

Philippines is pushing for the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) that would allow tariff adjustment of agricultural products severely affected by import surges. The local farm sector has to contend with import surges in agricultural products at prices lower than the local produce.

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