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2001

Globalisation - an introduction to the World Trade Organisation, including some facts and figures, link to conference on the WTO and to the WTO's own website. - August

Crisis and Recovery - Foot and Mouth disease , how we can respond to the crisis. - May

Global Sourcing - Looks at how the multi-national corporations buy in the world market at world prices, and how that affects British farming. - January

Archive
Jan-Dec 2000
Rural Officer's Letters: - 2001

The Rev'd. Terry Brighton

Contact: - 'twb@surfaid.org'
Archive index 2001
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Globalisation

Main Index Globalisation is seen by many as a potentially dangerous development -
What is it and why is it now in the news?
Burning Issues
Index
Global sourcing
World trade is controlled by the World Trade Organisation (WTO)Farming Matters!




ARC
Farming
post FMD

Facts about the WTO

Location: - Geneva, Switzerland.

Established: - 1 January 1995 (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - GATT - from 1948)

Created by: - Uruguay Round negotiations 1986-1994

Membership: - 140 countries (March 2001)

Budget: - 127 million Swiss francs (for 2000).

Functions:

  • Administering WTO trade agreements
  • Forum for trade negotiations
  • Handling trade disputes
  • monitoring national trade policies
  • Technical assistance and training for developing countries
  • Cooperation with other international organisations

The 140 members of the WTO account for over 90% of world trade. Decisions are made by the entire membership by 'consensus' (a vote is possible but has not been used). The WTO's agreements have been ratified in all members' parliaments.

The WTO's rules - agreements - are the result of negotiations between members. The current set were the outcome of the 1986 - 1994 Uruguay round of negotiations. This round also included new rules for dealing with trade in services (now known as General Agreement on Trade in Services - GATS). The complete set of rules runs to some 30,000 pages consisting of about 60 agreements.


The Principles of these agreements are....
that the trading system should be:-

  • without discrimination - a country should not discriminate between its own and foreign products, services or nationals.

  • freer - with barriers coming down through negotiations.

  • predictable - foreign companies, investors and governments should be confident that trade barriers will not be raised arbitrarily.

  • more competitive - by discouraging "unfair" practises, such as export subsidies and the dumping of products at below the cost of production, to gain a market share.

  • more beneficial for less developed countries - by giving them more time to adjust, greater flexibility and special privileges.



Foot and Mouth articles
Archive
Jan-Dec 2000
Critique at - Rural Officer's Letter: - Summer 2001 and see the WTO conference notes

The Rev'd. Terry Brighton 20th July 2001.

Contact: - 'twb@surfaid.org'
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A Happy New Year for 2001??

Main Index It may be for some. But for the majority of Food Producers there seems to be little prospect that 2001 will be different from 2000 and 1999. The price of food 'at the farm gate' world-wide is perhaps a little higher than previously, but not enough to make any serious difference to their standard of living. The farming crisis in the U.K. is only a reflection of what is happening in world markets. The buzz word in the wholesale grocery trade is 'Global Sourcing'. This means that the big Multi-nationals buy in the world market at world market prices. These large global players can switch sources and markets in response to changing currency values and regional surpluses. At the extreme they can buy cheap corn anywhere in the world and ship it to another country, where they will use it to force down the local price regardless of what the local input costs may be.

In this 'global economy' there seems to be little room for British farmers with their high fixed costs in labour, animal welfare, bureaucracy and environmental restrictions.

The question the arises 'Should we be seeking to continue food production in the U.K.? ' There are economists who would argue very strongly that we should not! They would say that we can buy food on the world market at far lower prices than we can produce it for ourselves. In reply the following points need to be taken into consideration:-

  • British farmers produced 81.6% of the 'indigenous' food consumed in this country in 1999. The food trade gap is now -£8.5bn and rising.
  • Much imported food is produced using methods which would be frowned on by the public and some of which are illegal in the U.K. on animal welfare and public health grounds.
  • The cost of 'Food Miles' on the environment is not taken into account. There is no tax on aviation fuel and many 'luxury food' items are flown into the U.K.
    Aircraft emissions are one of the chief causes of global warming.
  • With stock market pressures and international take-overs 'free-trade' can easily become a monopoly. For the sake of political global stability it is important that the U.K. and Europe maintains its own agricultural base.

We urgently need a 'joined-up' policy on Farming, Food and the Environment. This should take into account the impact of cheap food on the Third World as well as on U.K. producers. It must also seek to make Multi-national companies accountable to democratically elected governments. The power must be taken from the boardrooms of profit only companies and given back to the people. This calls into question the make-up and role of the World Trade Organisation!

Watch this space!!!
Globalisation
July 01
Farming Matters!Crisis and Recovery - May 01 Main Index
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Jan-Dec 2000
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July 01

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As a Rural Officer / Agricultural Chaplain I am being asked 'What can we do to help those affected by the Foot and Mouth disease tragedy?'

My reply as a Christian is:

  • 1. You can pray! (Yes. I believe it does work!)

  • 2. You can give!(All money given to the ARC-Addington fund is used to help those suffering loss of income as a result of Foot and Mouth Disease.

  • 3. You can give practical help. If you are a livestock farmer and have not been affected perhaps you will consider helping those who are?

    The Farmers Weekly 'Stockpledge' scheme and the South West of England 'SWIRL' are two possibilities.

    If you are interested e-mail me 'twb@surfaid.org' and I will gladly send you the contact address.

Farming Matters!

Burning Issues
Index
Global
sourcing
What is going to be vital is the ongoing discussion about the future use of land in the U.K. The opportunity must now be grasped for this to be wide ranging and for it to be used to break down any remaining division between town and country. We DO depend on each other and the churches should be in the forefront of the work of reconciliation and the deepening of understanding among all sections of society.

I am still grieved by the tone of some letters in the press 'blaming' farmers for Foot and Mouth Disease and by some farmers complaining about the 'General Public'! Throwing accusations at each other is not going to help anyone. What will help is a meeting together in discussion and as soon as possible the holding of 'Open Days' on farms. This could give the possibility of dialogue and a chance to see how the 'other side' lives. If the churches can act as a catalyst in this I am certain that it will be a worthwhile exercise.

Foot and Mouth articles
Archive
Jan-Dec 2000

If you have any ideas as to how it can be put into practice please let me know! Likewise if you have found anything that has worked for you.

The Rev'd. Terry Brighton 20th April 2001.

Contact:  twb@surfaid.org
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Rural Officers Letters: 2001

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