COMMITTEE ON COMMODITY PROBLEMS
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE
INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP ON GRAINS (29TH SESSION)
Rome, 3-5 July 2001
ANNEX: LIST OF DOCUMENTS
1. The 29th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains, the 40th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Rice, the 18th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Meat and the 29th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Oilseeds, Oils and Fats were held jointly on 3 July 2001 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. The meeting was attended by delegates from the following 34 members: Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, European Community (Member Organization), Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea (Republic of), Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the United States of America. The Russian Federation attended the meeting as observer. In addition, the following international organizations were present: the Bureau for the Development of Research on Tropical Perennial Oil Crops (BUROTROP), the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the International Grains Council (IGC), the International Trade Centre (ITC/UNCTAD/WTO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The list of participants was circulated as document CCP:GR-RI-ME-OF 01/Inf.3.
2. Ms Paola Fortucci, Director of the Commodities and Trade Division, welcomed delegates on behalf of the Director General.
3. Mr M.S. Nouri-Naeeni (Islamic Republic of Iran) was elected Chairperson. Mr H. Yamada (Japan) and Mr I. Umba (Democratic Republic of Congo) were elected First and Second Vice-Chairpersons, respectively.
4. It was agreed that the Secretariat prepare the draft report after the conclusion of the meeting and distribute it to the delegates for review and comments. It would then be finalized in collaboration with the Chairperson.
5. An informal Symposium on Biotechnology and Basic Foodstuffs was organized in conjunction with the meeting on Wednesday 4 July 2001.
6. The Secretariat provided updated information on market prospects for grains, rice, meat, oilseeds, oils and fats and meals, particularly with respect to international prices, production, consumption and trade on the basis of the latest issue of Food Outlook (June 2001) and CCP:GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS.1.
7. Several delegates also reported on recent market developments in their countries.
8. The Groups reviewed the results of the FAO commodity projections to the year 2010 for cereals, livestock and oilcrops and products on the basis of the document CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/2. The projections showed a somewhat tighter market for grains but relatively little change in the balance between supply and demand for the other commodities. The Meeting expressed agreement with the general trends outlined in the report, although some delegates noted that their own and other medium-term assessments diverged somewhat from those indicated in the document for some countries and some commodities.
9. Concern was expressed that the projections indicated that developing countries were not expected to expand their share in export trade, in particular of grains, with most of the increases being concentrated in major developed country exporters and countries in transition. It was also suggested that the underlying assumption in FAO’s projections of no change in the URAA commitments may have been a factor in limiting the projected exports of developing countries. The Groups agreed that the Secretariat should continue to pursue this type work, providing detailed results for developing countries and taking into account policy developments, including further trade liberalization.
10. In the context of the medium term projections, the Groups noted the Secretariat’s assessment of the market impact of recent animal disease outbreaks in some major meat exporting countries. This assessment was based on a scenario analysis taking into account current policies and other likely developments in response to increased incidence of foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The global market implications of these scenarios, along with their impact on the dairy and feed sectors, were also evaluated. The results demonstrated that animal disease outbreaks affected markets differently. The food safety and human health concerns inherent in BSE would have a much greater and prolonged impact on the meat market than FMD. Supplemental information was provided on the market implications of disease developments in some regions.
11. With the help of document GR-RI-ME-OF 01/3 and its supplement, the Meeting was informed of the salient policy developments that had taken place in 1999-2000. The Groups recognized that during that period, policies had been strongly influenced by the fall in international prices as well as the proliferation of animal diseases. In general, these factors had prompted an intensification in the use of trade policy measures to protect markets or to sustain exports. In most cases, these actions were taken in conformity with WTO commitments. The widespread incidence of animal diseases had encouraged the establishment of higher food quality standards, quality assurance schemes, product traceability, etc. to respond to consumer concerns, notwithstanding their high associated costs. The Groups noted that there had been some instances of progress in reducing export subsidies and expanding preferential access for the commodities under review. As for food aid and concessional trade, their volume had tended to fall in the case of rice and oilseeds, while large meat concessional shipments to Russia in 1999 had subsequently dropped.
12. Some delegates noted that compensatory payments made to producers in developed countries had risen considerably in recent years and questioned the production-neutrality of such measures. In this connection, the United States informed the Meeting that the emergency Market Loss Assistance payments made to farmers in that country had been notified at the WTO as “amber box” measures which will be subject to negotiations for reduction at the next round of multilateral trade negotiations.
13. Several delegates provided clarifications and updated information on policy measures adopted in their countries. The delegate from Japan explained that since 1997 his Government had only played a limited role in setting purchasing and re-sale prices for necessary rice stockholding to ensure food security . At the same time, he informed the Group about Japan’s initiative at WTO to promote the establishment of a new framework for international food stocks, to complement food aid schemes. The representative from China explained that his Government was promoting income-generating activities to alleviate the negative impact of low farm prices on farmers. The delegate of Malaysia provided details of a programme to develop the use of palm oil as industrial fuel, with the view to increase consumption and thereby reduce stocks. He indicated that the project was self-financing and would not rely on intervention buying by the state agencies.
14. The Goups generally agreed with the recommendations listed in paragraphs 35, 55 and 80 of document GR-RI-ME-OF 01/3. However, several delegates questioned recommendation 35 (ii), noting that compensatory measures to address low producer prices in countries confronted with the problem of rural exodus would not be justified, unless potential existed for economically efficient increases in production. It was also observed that the recommendation in paragraph 55 (vi) to foster regional trade agreements needed to be done in full conformity with the provisions of WTO. Regarding the recommendation made in paragraph 80 (i), some delegates, while agreeing on the actions suggested to deal with excess commodity supplies, stated that countries should preferably tackle the factors responsible for such oversupply situations, in the first place.
15. This item was reviewed on the basis of document CCP:GR-RI-ME-OF 01/4. The need to reach an agreement on the revision of the Guidelines was widely recognized, given that the revision process had been initiated by the Group on Oilseeds, Oils and Fats in 1995. The Group commended the Secretariat for having presented the comments made by Group members on previous occasions in a concise and clear manner. While a few delegates provided specific comments on the various proposals, the Group agreed that it would not be possible to reach a decision on the final form of the Guidelines because of time limitations and the need expressed by some delegates for further consultations with their capitals. After considering various alternative solutions, the Group decided to postpone making the final decision on the Guidelines to its next session encouraging all members to review and firmly determine their positions regarding the various recommendations contained in the document.
16. The Groups reviewed this agenda item on the basis of documents CCP:GR-RI-ME-OF 01/5 and CCP:GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS4 and took note of recent developments regarding proposals which had recently entered the project pipeline. The Groups proposed that in those cases where a project provided benefits directly to their members, the governments concerned should be encouraged to endorse such projects and where possible express their commitment to provide counterpart contributions as needed. To this effect, the Secretariat was asked to seek closer interaction with concerned government representatives before proposals were submitted to the Groups for endorsement.
17. The Groups agreed to formally endorse the following two pipeline projects: “Improving Trade and Marketing of Ruminant Meats in Southeast Asia” and “Technologies and Enabling Policies for the Development of Smallholder Dairy Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa”.
18. The meeting was informed about a new project idea on “Enhancing Livestock and Meat Production in Mali and Mauritania” which, pending the usual review, should be considered for endorsement by the IGG on Meat.
19. The Groups expressed appreciation for the reports provided by the representatives from the International Grains Council (IGC) and the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD). The representative from the IGC informed the Groups that the 1995 Grains Trade Convention was recently extended for a further two years until 30 June 2003. The Groups were also informed that food aid shipments in 1999/2000 reached 10 million tonnes which was 2 million tonnes more than in the previous season and substantially higher than the minimum commitments under the Food Aid Convention.
20. The representative from the OECD informed the Groups about the forthcoming annual publication on monitoring and evaluation of agricultural policies in 2000 among the OECD countries. The Groups were also informed about the plan to hold a high level meeting in the first week of September 2001 to discuss domestic policies in the context of trade liberalization prospects.
21. The Meeting was informed of the decisions taken at the 63rd Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems regarding the extension of the mandate of the IGG on Grains to include pulses and roots and tubers and of the IGG on and Meat to include dairy products. Some delegates stressed that this widening of the coverage of these groups should not reduce their focus on the specific market, trade and technical issues affecting the commodities traditionally covered by the groups.
22. As far as holding joint meetings of different Groups was concerned, the Meeting stressed the extreme difficulty of establishing relevant agendas for such meetings that could deal with substantive issues affecting different commodities in an adequate manner. The Meeting stressed that, in order to enhance their work, sessions of the Groups should be held separately in the future, to the extent possible given resource constraints and taking into account the recommendations of the CCP. In order to encourage wider participation of experts from member countries and deeper discussions on substantive commodity issues, the agendas of future sessions should focus on significant and topical issues. There was strong support to the Secretariat’s efforts to hold commodity conferences in conjunction with Group sessions which would allow enhancing of networking among members and other stakeholders and ensure a more comprehensive treatment of topics of special interest to the Groups.
23. The report of the 7th Session of the Sub-Group on Hides and Skins was adopted.
24. The Groups requested the Director-General to determine date and place of their next sessions, after consultation with the Chairperson, taking into account the availability of resources and, especially, the schedule of other meetings.
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/1||Provisional Agenda and Agenda Notes|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/2||Medium Term Projections to 2010|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/3||Follow-up to the Guidelines for National and International Action/Cooperation in the Rice; Livestock and meat; and Oilseeds, Oils and Oilmeals Sectors|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/3 Supp.1||Follow-up to the Guidelines for National and International Action on Rice, Livestock and Meat and Oilseeds, Oils and Oilmeals|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/4||Revision of the Guidelines for International Cooperation in the Oilseeds, Oils and Oilmeals Sector|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/5||Developments Regarding the Common Fund for Commodities|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/6-Rev.1||Report of the 7th Session of the Sub-Group on Hides and Skins|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS.1||Statistical Compendium for Basic Foods|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS.2||Revised Terms of Reference of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS.3||Revised Terms of Reference of the Intergovernmental Group on Meat|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/CRS.4||Supporting information on Common Fund projects|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/INF.1||Proposed Timetable and List of Documents|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/INF.2||EC Competence and Voting Rights|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/INF.3||List of Delegates and Observers|
|CCP: GR-RI-ME-OF 01/INF.4||Exchange of Information on Pulses|