NEWS from
The International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade


DATE: December 10, 1999
CONTACT: Peter Lacy (202)328-5056

The IPC Urges Countries to Return to WTO Negotiating Table

Washington, DC -- The International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade (IPC) regrets the missed opportunity that the Third WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle presented to move forward with the freeing up of trade in agricultural and food products.

“Reform of trade rules -specifically reform of agricultural trade rules- represents the single largest potential contributor to increased living standards and enhanced prosperity worldwide,” IPC Chairman Lord Plumb said. “The IPC is disappointed that the discussions and negotiations in Seattle failed to recognize this important rationale behind advancing agricultural trade reform through the World Trade Organization.”

In this sense, the Seattle result was particularly damaging for low-income countries, as those countries stand to benefit the most from the higher living standards that trade can bring. It is important to remember that the best solution to the problems of hunger and malnutrition is broad-based economic development that provides people with the jobs and wherewithal to produce or purchase the food they need. An open and efficient world trade system not only helps generate such development but contributes to global food security by allowing countries in one region to offset supply shortfalls with supplies from other regions.

The IPC calls on the negotiators in the WTO to resume the talks in Geneva as soon as possible. These talks should lay out the scope, objectives and timetable of the Round, with the aim of having each country table its position by June 30, 2000. In particular, the IPC urges WTO negotiators to work on opening markets around the world as a means to enhance global growth.

The IPC is an independent organization dedicated to developing policies that support an efficient and open global agricultural system. Its membership includes 35 leaders and experts from 20 developed and developing countries, with backgrounds in farming, business, government and academia. The IPC will be very active during the WTO Round and can be reached at the numbers listed above.