Dakar - May 2003: The Dakar Declaration for mutually supportive agricultural and trade policies

10 June 2003

Working documents

I WTO vision : the world upside down

The « liberalisation » of agricultural trade and deregulation, promoted by the WTO, the IMF, the Free Trade Agreements, etc. are substantial causes of damage all over the world: hunger, unemployment, inequality, poverty, and degradation of natural resources are increasing in the rural world, particularly in the South. Farmers are forced into rural exodus and migration. Increasingly, large corporate agri-business is taking their place and taking up their lands.

The assumption on the basis of which the WTO subjects farmers to world prices, the assumption that the international market can produce valid results, uniform for all the countries, has been disproved by the facts. Agricultural prices are unstable, chronically depressed and tend to fall over time.

The WTO aims to ban import protection, an instrument available to all, including the poor countries. The WTO favours, on the contrary, protection instruments which are available only to rich countries (aids decoupled from production, placed in the WTO green box). This allows, among other things, the whitewashing of dumping.

The WTO’s highest priority is to reduce agricultural prices, and it does it in two ways:
At the level of internal markets, by lowering customs duties and dismantling market organisation instruments.
Externally, through export-orientation, which depresses world prices paid to farmers.

WTO encourages extreme competition among producers: the producers are losers, and the consumers are not the winners. The decrease of the agricultural prices benefits mainly large corporate agri-business and retail sector.

WTO weakens the weakest and benefits the strongest.

II For agricultural policies founded on rights

Agricultural policy must respond to the fundamental rights and needs of populations, in particular women:

- Right to (healthy, culturally adapted, ...) food

- Right to produce this food

- Access to resources (land, seed, water, credit, …)

- Respect for environment (sustainable production modes, biodiversity)

- Equity (right to decent income),

- ……..

The market cannot ensure that these rights are respected. It is the responsibility of the public authorities, at the local level, at the scale of a country or a group of countries. These elements are the very basis of food sovereignty.

In order to ensure these rights, there is a need for instruments, particularly import protection and supply management. Agricultural prices must cover production costs, including a decent remuneration for the farmer.

Financial resources must be available in order to insure sufficient levels of infrastructure and services, in particular in the Southern countries.

The desire to export must not take precedence over fundamental rights, whether within a country or vis-à-vis other countries.

III For mutually supportive international trade

Trade is indeed necessary, but it does not have prevalence over fundamental rights.

The most fundamental demand in terms of solidarity is that exports should not lead to the destabilisation of domestic markets in the other countries. Priority should be given to supplying the domestic market.

Market access should take place without deregulating the market of the importing country. The aim must be to eliminate all forms of dumping.

Agricultural subsidies are legitimate if they are granted on the basis of the populations’ rights and expectations and are not used for promoting exports.

Trade rules must not prevent countries from encouraging sustainable production systems based on family farming.

There must be consultation and effort to manage supply on world markets. In particular, producer and consumer countries should work together to stabilise markets and ensure fair prices for products mainly destined for export (coffee, cocoa, etc.). Preferential import agreements may also play a positive rule, notably for the small countries with a vulnerable economy.

Populations’ legitimate choices, refusing for instance GMOs, hormones ..., must prevail over the trade companies’ interests and be respected by the international trade rules.


Given the risks involved in the present WTO negotiations, and with a view to defending the choices stated above, farmers organisations and civil society organisations must urgently be mobilised on the largest possible scale.
Governments are urged to reject the current WTO vision and proposals and defend in Cancun the principle of food sovereignty.

We propose to the the farmers organisations who wish to endorse the declaration of Dakar and to the other types of associations (NGO...) which wish to support this declaration to return us by fax the following form :

PDF - 6.9 kb
Form of endorsement for the Declaration of Dakar

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