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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Aid agencies welcome historic agreement on trade and agriculture
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 A unique international agreement between big businesses and development charities has been issued at the World Economic Forum in New York today. The communiqué on agricultural trade, drawn up in talks between major corporations, development charities and international organisations including the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the World Bank, challenges governments and aid donors to boost agriculture in developing countries. CAFOD, Action Aid, and Save the Children UK have all welcomed the statement. Julian Filochowski, Director of CAFOD, who attended the discussions in New York, said: "I welcome these face-to-face discussions between charities that have campaigned so vigorously on behalf of the world's poor and companies that are such significant players in the developing world. "It is particularly significant that following the discussions the group have been able to issue a joint statement calling unequivocally for a system of international trade that gives its poorest members the flexibility and support they need to develop their agricultural capacity." This implies that radical reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy cannot be postponed and the US protectionist trade policies must be tackled as a matter of urgency. The communiqué from the Agricultural Trade Task Force urges policy makers and ministers involved in the new round of WTO negotiations on agriculture to eliminate trade tariffs; increase agricultural capacity in developing countries; and implement policies that encourage environmentally sustainable practices. It concludes: "Trade is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and putting an end to hunger and poverty is perhaps the greatest challenge of the 21st century. A fair trading system, coherent international and national policies and targeted investment are all required if the world is to feed all its people. Trade reform which furthers this goal is both possible and of the utmost priority." The international reforms, capacity-building, investment and policy flexibility that the statement calls for are much needed and would be an enormous contribution to the development of some of the world's poorest countries.
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