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Report of the Committee on Commodity Problems
(Fifty—second Session, Rome, 15—19 October 1979)

10. The Council approved the Report of the Fifty—second Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP). The Council expressed its concern that the decline of the share of developing countries in world agricultural trade in 1978 alone cost them over US$4 billion, which virtually offset the value of external assistance to agriculture in the previous year. About 90 percent of the increase in world agricultural export earnings in 1978 had accrued to developed countries. The Council also expressed its concern that the agricultural export earnings of the developing countries had advanced by only three percent over the level of 1977.

11. The Council agreed that protectionism posed a major problem for agricultural trade. There was general expression of concern at the adverse effects of protectionism on the agricultural trade and. production of exporting countries. The Council urged all countries, and particularly developed countries, to resist protectionist pressures and to move wherever possible towards progressive reduction and elimination of tariff and non—tariff barriers to the entry of agricultural products, particularly those of interest to developing countries. The Council agreed that FAO should analyse the effects of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNs) on agricultural trade and of developments in protectionism affecting individual agricultural commodities, bearing in mind the need to complement and not duplicate the work in other international organizations, particularly UNCTAD and GATT.

12. Many members considered that the mounting seriousness of protectionism in the agricultural sector warranted the establishment of a permanent mechanism in FAO to monitor and study protectionist policies which jeopardize the exports of developing countries, as well as the establishment of a programme aimed at eliminating protectionist measures affecting food and agricultural products. The analysis should include information on the efforts of the developed countries with respect to agricultural adjustment and the results of the multilateral negotiations and agreements on agricultural trade. They emphasized that FAO should promote a world—wide information campaign, directed mainly at consumers in the industrialized countries, on the harmful consequences of protectionism for the developing countries. In this connexion, particular stress was laid on the observation made by the Director—General in his opening address to the CCP that it would be the height of cynicism to encourage developing countries to increase their production for export if, in the end, they would be unable to find remunerative markets.

13. While recognizing the deep concern of many countries over the very limited results achieved in various fora towards the liberalization of trade and the stabilization of international prices of agricultural commodities, some members stressed that the progress achieved should not be underestimated.

14. Referring to the Committee’s recommendations on the procedures and timetable for the revision of the guidelines for international agricultural adjustment, some members felt that it was necessary to await the decision of the FAO Conference.

15. The Council emphasized the growing economic interdependence of all countries and the importance of promoting greater understanding of the problems faced by different groups of countries. It underlined the need to avoid confrontation and to work with a spirit of cooperation in examining agricultural commodity problems and in finding effective solutions to them.

16. The Council agreed to recommend to the Conference for consideration and decision the following draft resolution on Commodity Trade, Protectionism and Agricultural Adjustment:




Recalling the Conference Resolution 7/75 on the Commodity Market, which, inter alia, recommended that developed countries take appropriate measures aiming at effective access to their markets for imports from developing countries,

Recalling further that the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development stressed that the New International Economic Order, designed to bring out the equitable participation of the developing countries in world economicactivity, is essential to the success of national effort-s to attain rural development, and accordingly recommended a programme of action concerning international trade,

Noting the Resolutions 131(V) and 124(V) adopted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development at its Fifth Session on Protectionism and Structural Adjustment and on Integrated- Programme for Commodities respectively, and also the agreement reached at the Negotiating Conference on the fundamental elements of the Common Fund,

Considering that protectionist policies of the developed countries impose serious obstacles in the process of agricultural adjustment and constitute a major constraint on the expansion of trade, in agricultural commodities, with grave consequences for the economic and rural development of developing countries,

Considering further that protectionist policies also pose the most severe constraint to the expansion of the export earnings of both developing countries and those developed countries which depend heavily on agricultural exports,

Considering further the urgent need -for developing- countries to accelerate their foreign exchange earnings, particularly in order to overcome the rapidly mounting burden of external debt,

Regretting that the GATT ‘Multilateral Trade Negotiations failed to provide significant concessions in sectors that are of great importance for agricultural trade, particularly of developing countries,

Stressing the essential need for agricultural adjustment in countries which have high support prices and/or barriers against imports especially from developing countries that compete with their domestic products, particularly in order for developing countries to attain an increasing share of world production as well as world trade in agricultural products,

Noting with deep concern the signs of increasing .protectionist pressures in agriculture, which is already subject to a magnitude of import restrictions and export subsidies unparalleled in industrial trade, and that the actions taken to resolve these problems fall seriously far short of what is required,

1. Recommends that all countries display the necessary political will by (a) refraining to the maximum extent possible, from imposing any new tariff or non—tariff barriers to the imports of agricultural products, particularly from developing countries, and (b) developed countries adopting, a progressive programme to improve access to their markets for -agricultural commodities by implementing the.agreed.Programme of Action of the World Conference Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, which, inter alia, called for not only the implementation of existing commitments to liberalize trade but also a move towards the progressive reduction and elimination of tariff and non—tariff barriers to the entry of agricultural products of particular interest to developing countries, the expansion of the Generalized System of - Preferences, and the adjustment of open or concealed subsidies for competing synthetic substitutes to meet the export needs of developing countries;

2. Urges governments to give immediate consideration to take appropriate action in relevant fora on the commodity trade issues of critical importance especially to developing countries, which have not been resolved in the MTNs, including the elimination of non—tariff barriers as well as removal of tariffs on tropical products and other commodities of export interest particularly to developing countries;

3. Requests the Committee on Commodity Problems, with the assistance of its Intergovernmental Commodity Groups to (1) assess the impact of the results of the MTNs on the trade prospects of the main commodities concerned, with regard to the exports of the developing countries; (ii) review developments in protectionism and its effects on the trade on agricultural commodities from developing countries in quantified terms where possible, and (iii) examine the scope for and ways of promoting trade between the developing countries in the commodities concerned; and further requests the Committee to undertake this work so that it complements, and does not duplicate the work in other international organizations, and particularly in UNCTAD and GATT;

4. Proposes that the Guidelines for International Agricultural Adjustment should be revised in the light of the recent developments in world agricultural production, consumption and trade, to reflect the objectives of the new International Development Strategy and the relevant conclusions and recommendations reached in WCARRD, UNCTAD and other relevant fora;

5. Noting with satisfaction the agreement reached on the fundamental elements of the Common Fund invites governments, within the framework of the Common Fund, to explore ways of utilizing the experience and technical expertise of FAO, and of the Intergovernmental Commodity Groups, in the eventual operations of the Common Fund, especially of the Second Window, in order to finance commodity development measures aimed at improving the structural conditions in markets and at enhancing the long—term competitiveness and prospects of particular commodities;

6. Recommends that, in order to expedite the implementation of the Integrated Programme on Commodities, particularly the conclusion of the International Commodity Agreements FAO should continue to give full support to UNCTAD;

7. Urges that governments which have not already done so should ratify the International Sugar Agreement and those who have not signed should sign and ratify this Agreement in order to contribute to the stabilization of the world sugar market;

8. Welcomes the conclusion of the International Natural Rubber Agreement and urges all governments concerned to ratify it so that it can come into effect on 1 October 1980, as envisaged;

9. Requests the Director—General to present to the Fifty—third Session of the Committee onCommodity Problems a report on actions taken in pursuance of the present resolution.

Report of the Committee on Fisheries
(Thirteenth Session, Rome, 8—12 October 1979)

17. The Council examined four main items considered by the Committee on Fisheries.

18. The first related to the Comprehensive Programme of Assistance in the Development and Management of Fisheries in Economic Zones. The Council agreed with the Committee that the proposals presented to it provided an excellent framework for the planning and execution of a programme to assist developing coastal states in managing and developing fisheries in their economic zones and expressed unanimous support for the Programme.

19. The Council therefore endorsed the recommendations of the Committee on Fisheries regarding the Programme, in particular the proposals to decentralise the delivery of the Programme through a network of technical support units associated with a strengthened and reorientated framework of FAO regional fishery bodies.

20. The Council noted the request by a number of members that special technical support should be provided to the existing administrative machinery for fisheries development and management in the Mediterranean. The Council was informed that concrete preparations for such technical assistance were already being made but that implementation was contingent upon the obtaining of the necessary extrabudgetary financial support.

21. The Council also endorsed the three central objectives of the Programme, i.e. ,

  1. the strengthening of the capabilities of coastal countries and groupings of countries to manage and develop their fisheries;
  2. the promotion of rational management and the full use by the developing countries of fishery resources in their economic zones; and
  3. the strengthening of the efforts of developing countries to secure a greater share of and higher benefit from living marine resources as part of initiatives to establish a New International Economic Order. 3

22. The Council welcomed the special attention being accorded in the implementation of the Programme to small-scale fisheries; nevertheless some members suggested that largescale fisheries should not be neglected. The Council also noted the support given by the Committee on Fisheries to the proposal that an FAO Technical Conference on the Management and Development of Fisheries should be held in 1982.

23. In welcoming the high priority being accorded by the Director—General to the Programme, the Council approved the efforts being made by FAO to mobilise financial and other forms of assistance for the Programme and requested potential donors to provide the maximum support possible for fisheries development and management.

24. With regard to aquaculture development, the second matter brought to its attention by the Committee on Fisheries, the Council expressed satisfaction at the Secretariats assurance that support to aquaculture in developing countries, which could make a significant contribution to food production, employment and integrated development in their rural communities, was being given high priority and was regarded as an essential complement, not as a competitor, to the Organization’s work in marine fisheries.

25. The Council concurred with the Committee on Fisheries in attaching importance to the need for all regional tuna bodies to address the growing problems and opportunities resulting from extension of fisheries jurisdiction by coastal states. The Council noted the opinion expressed by the Committee on Fisheries that discussion of tuna management problems should take place within the relevant regional bodies and need not be brought to future sessions of the Committee.

26. The Council agreed with the Committee on Fisheries in supporting the priorities and general thrust of the programme of work of FAO in fisheries in 1980-81. It expressed satisfaction at the assurance given by the Secretariat that, in reorientating the programme to meet the challenges of the new legal regime of the oceans, FAO’s capacity to provide technical assistance in fisheries policy and planning, in institutional development and support, in resource assessment and management, in training and in fisheries technology and utilization would be increased, especially in the field.

1CL 76/6; CL 76/PV/4; CL 76/PV/6.

2CL 76/6; CL 76/PV/4; CL 76/PV/6.

3As adopted in Resolutions 3201 and 3202 of the UN General Assembly.

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