Oxfam says EU must change its mindset at WTO

Published: 25 July 2006

Europe must accept its role in the five-years of failed negotiations at the WTO that led to this week’s chaotic end to the trade talks and show leadership to make pro-development reforms both domestically and in its international trade agreements, said Oxfam International today.

While the European Union has moved closer to the position of the G20 in the last three months, its offers on market access and domestic support were still insufficient to deliver a pro-development outcome. Moreover, the EU has produced many hurdles on the way to a development deal in the past five years including, for instance, its insistence upon Singapore issues, which precipitated the failure of the Cancun Ministerial in 2003. EU’s modest CAP reform process also delayed the WTO talks and the subsequent refusal of some member states to go beyond the existing reform also hindered the chance of a fair deal, Oxfam said.

“The EU must look objectively at the debacle of the negotiations and realize that what it put on the table was far from delivering a genuine development deal for poor countries. The intransigence shown by both Europe and the United States over the course of these talks is clearly the reason for their failure,” said Luis Morago, head of Oxfam EU Office in Brussels.

Oxfam welcomed the announcement that the European Union is still committed to the Doha Development Round and is willing to take forward a number of development measures such as the aid for trade package and duty-free and quota-free access for the world’s poorest countries.

“Besides these areas, Commissioner Mandelson has the opportunity to show how serious he is about delivering reforms that help Europe’s small farmers and poor countries. He must lead the reopening of a genuine public debate in Europe about CAP reform. One that would eliminate dumping and truly support Europe’s small farmers,” Morago said.

European Commission statistics show that in 2004, the latest year of recording, €28.2 billion was paid out in direct subsidies out of a total CAP budget of €45.6 billion – and the biggest 7% of Europe’s producers swallowed up some 56% of all payments.

“These subsidies continue to promote over-production and dumping, hurting poor farmers in developing countries,” Morago said.

The EU must also ensure that any partnership agreement between EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACPs) contributes to regional integration, and enhance the ability of developing countries to move up the development ladder.

“The EC must change its negotiating stance and use the review process this autumn to give ACP countries the space and flexibility to negotiate an agreement that promotes their development and poverty reduction objectives,” concluded Luis Morago.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Louis Belanger – Oxfam spokesperson in Brussels on +32 4 73 56 22 60