Akbayan Rep calls on Government to Reject Bad Deal in Bali

04 December 2013
Press release

In a conversation with Secretary today with Department of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo today, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello warned the government not to agree to what he saw as inequitable agriculture and trade deals brewing at the on-going World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Bali, Indonesia.

The two deals that are being pushed in the WTO ministerial are an Agreement for a four-year extension of the “Peace Clause” to the Agreement on Agriculture and a Trade Facilitation Agreement. The former would require developing countries to give up their already minimal support for agriculture without getting the developed countries to give up their massive subsidies for their producers. The latter would essentially provide developed countries greater access to developing country markets without providing developing countries equal benefits as those derived by developed country exporters.

In his conversation with Bello, Domingo admitted that the Peace Clause agreement on the table was unbalanced in favor of developed countries and that the trade facilitation deal benefited mainly big corporations and not small and medium enterprises.

India, one of the developing country leaders, is adamantly against the Peace Clause Agreement, and is supported by Argentina and a number of Latin American countries. In response to Domingo’s opinion that the Philippines will not suffer as much from India under a new agreement, Bello said that it is essential for the Group of 33 to stand behind India because what is at stake is the basic inequity of the proposed deal for all developing countries. He also said that this is not the time for the developing countries to break ranks.

“We have spent so many years building up the unity of the developing countries in such formations as the Group of 33 and Group of 20. It would be a tragedy if we now allowed the developed countries to split us in Bali,” Bello said.

Possibly reflecting pressure from host country Indonesia to get a WTO deal at all costs, Domingo expressed his concern that by not agreeing to the deal, the Philippines, a key player in the Group of 33, might be seen as the country that “brought down the Bali Ministerial.”

Bello countered that saving the Bali Ministerial at the expense of developing country unity would be a a greater setback.

“The US and EU want to pick us off one by one,” Bello said, “and they want to start by isolating oen of the developing countries’ biggest players, India.”

Bello said what the developing countries should fight for should be a “permanent Peace Clause” that would eliminate the developed countries’ agricultural subsidies that “have devastated developing country agriculture,” while allowing developing countries to maintain the relatively smaller subsidies they have that allow their small farmers to survive. He also said the Philippines and other countries must not be seduced by a Trade Facilitation deal that would benefit them less than the developed countries.

Secretary Domingo is slated to meet with Philippine civil society organizations later today in Bali and to brief President Benigno Aquino afterwards on what position the official Philippine delegation will take.

“I have already told the President the Philippines will lose from a Bali deal. I hope Secretary Domingo will support me in this," Bello concluded.