G33 Group Pushes To Re-Open WTO Talks On Food Subsidy Rules

“The combined effects of the global economic slowdown and increasing climatic shocks are threatening food security in developing countries, prompting many to re-open World Trade Organization (WTO) discussions on limits to support for farmers,” IRIN reports. “A group of developing countries — known as G33 — is asking to exceed their agreed domestic support limits when they buy, stock and supply cereals and other food to boost food security among the poor; they want these changes to be exempt from any legal challenge,” the news service writes. “Essentially, these countries want the freedom to buy grains at set prices from producers and to use that grain to build stockpiles for distribution,” IRIN adds (Kindra, 10/21).

“The proposed rule change was officially put forward by the G33 coalition of developing countries last November, but India is widely acknowledged to be the driving force behind the bid,” according to The Guardian, which notes, “Debate on the issue is heating up as negotiators prepare for the [WTO’s] next high-level meeting, which is due to take place in Bali in December” (McClanahan, 10/21). “Developed countries and some developing countries are concerned that the G33 proposal — which is backed by India, China and Indonesia — could affect food security in neighboring countries,” IRIN writes, adding, “They fear these measures could lead to surpluses in stocks, which the G33 members might dump in the global market, disrupting global prices” (10/21).