Sixty-second Session

Rome, 12-15 January 1999


Table of Contents






1. At its 61st Session, the Committee on Commodity Problems undertook a preliminary review of measures taken to improve effectiveness and contain costs of its intergovernmental commodity bodies. While endorsing the cost-cutting measures which had been taken and recognizing that a high standard of work had been maintained, the Committee decided that there was a need to carry out an in-depth review of the mandate and structure of its IGG system, with a view to rationalizing and strengthening the functions and scope of the IGGs to achieve maximum benefits from their operations. The Committee therefore recommended that the role and functioning of the IGGs be again considered at its 62nd Session, taking into full account the conclusions and guidance of the Council and Conference with regard to the ongoing review of all statutory bodies.

2. The 112th and 113th Sessions of the Council in June and November 1997, respectively, considered savings and efficiencies in governance. Insofar as the IGGs were concerned certain recommendations for rationalizing the structure of statutory bodies were submitted to the Conference. These recommendations drew on a wide range of background information, including the Report of the Ad-Hoc Contact Group on Statutory Bodies which had been set up by the Programme and Finance Committees to provide guidance on measures for improving governance and efficiencies.

3. On the basis of the results of this review process and the Council's recommendations, the 29th Session of Conference adopted Resolution 13/97 calling for the abolition of selected statutory bodies. In particular, it requested that various parent bodies, including the CCP, take the necessary action to abolish specified subsidiary bodies unless they considered, taking into account the financial and programme implications that there were overriding reasons for retaining any such bodies in existence. The CCP subsidiary bodies recommended for abolition under Resolution 13/97 are listed in paragraphs 53 and 54 below.

4. This document is organized into two major parts. The first reviews the mandate and structure of the IGGs including their inter-relationships with other organizations/institutions providing similar or related services. The second part provides information on the financial requirements associated with the work of the IGGs, and possible adjustments in their operations to achieve further efficiencies.

5. The conclusions and recommendations in this document are based on the assumption that the IGG system has well served the interests of members over the years in a flexible and cost effective manner. However, IGG procedures and work programmes may require some adaptation to meet evolving economic and policy developments, including the continuing search for economies underway throughout FAO. Thus, the suggestions made should not limit the choices open to the Committee, particularly as one of the salient features of the IGGs has been their adaptability to the wishes of members.



6. From its inception, FAO has given substantial attention to the development of trade in agricultural products, including fishery and forestry products. Within the context of FAO's broad mandate for the improvement of agriculture, the Constitution recognizes a role for the Organization in strengthening trade in agricultural products.1

7. Some guidance to the IGG's work in agricultural trade development was provided by Conference Resolution 2/79 "Commodity Trade, Protectionism and Agricultural Adjustment and the Guidelines and Targets for International Agricultural Adjustment". Resolution 2/79 which was updated and revised in 1983 specifically requests the CCP, with the assistance of its IGGs to assess the impact of the results of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations and developments in protectionism for trade in the main agricultural commodities with special regard to the exports of the developing countries; and to examine the scope for trade between the developing countries. At the same time, it stressed that FAO activities should complement the work in other international organizations.

8. Other guiding principles applicable to the work of the IGGs are those associated with the development and facilitation of agricultural trade, as provided for under Commitment Four of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit (WFS). In particular the international community is called upon to promote financial and technical assistance to improve agricultural productivity in developing countries, a task which many of the IGGs have embraced in recent years. In addition, FAO is called upon to monitor developments in world food prices and stocks; and within its mandate to assist developing countries in preparing for multilateral trade negotiations, areas pursued inter alia through Uruguay Round studies and analyses presented to the various IGGs (see document CCP: 99/14). Work on those assignments is in full progress.

9. Under its Constitution, FAO is also required to collect, analyze, interpret and disseminate information. It is called upon as well to promote, and where appropriate, recommend national and international action with respect to inter alia scientific, technological, social and economic research; the improvement of processing, marketing and distribution of food and agricultural products; and the adoption of international policies with respect to agricultural commodity arrangements. The IGGs currently provide support to nearly all of these functions.


10. The CCP, since its inception in 1949, has established subsidiary bodies only in response to the emergence of severe problems in commodity markets and to very specific findings regarding the need and usefulness of such bodies on the basis of specified criteria.2 In fact, it established only 11 IGGs between 1955 and 1970. More recently, it approved intergovernmental machinery for two commodity groupings, but in the form of Sub-Groups of existing IGGs, in particular the Sub-Group on Hides and Skins in 1985 and the Sub-Group on Tropical Fruits in 1997.3 The list of IGGs and their dates of establishment are shown in Appendix 1.

11. Apart from the regular review of the work of the IGGs undertaken routinely by the CCP, evaluation of their activities has been undertaken at periodic intervals. The most recent review in some detail was undertaken at the 60th Session of the CCP in April 1995 when the Committee was provided with information regarding the role and functioning of the IGGs (Document CCP: 95/11) Without dwelling on the historic aspects of the Groups, it may suffice to indicate that initially, the emphasis in international agricultural policy was the quest for solutions to problems of commodity market instability. Most of the IGGs thus included in their terms of reference (TORs) in one form or another the objective of providing fora to consider, where appropriate, the feasibility and desirability of some form of international commodity arrangements, in accordance with the provisions of the FAO Constitution. In addition, the TORs of most IGGs make general reference to "special difficulties" to be dealt with, although these are not specifically defined, through consultations between producing and consuming countries. As regards other aspects, there are considerable differences among the TORs of the Groups, some of which are very broad, while others are more detailed in regard to the specific characteristics of the commodity concerned.

12. In general, however, the TORs of the IGGs have been sufficiently flexible to allow the work of the Groups to evolve in response to market and policy developments and to undertake activities of interest to member countries. It may be recalled that beginning in the late seventies, commodity policy gradually shifted away from market management to the search for ways to improve the functioning of markets, to benefit both exporting and importing countries, and particularly developing countries. While numerous commodity agreements with economic provisions were negotiated in the period from the 1950s onwards, interest in such arrangements gradually waned. Those agreements negotiated during the 1980s concentrated on so-called "other measures" rather than market stabilization, and the IGGs followed the same route. While continuing their monitoring of the situation and outlook, they focused increasingly on special market problems, and the encouragement of research and development and market promotion strategies and measures. Linked to the need to improve the functioning of markets, greater emphasis in the work of the IGGs was given to the problems associated with protectionism in its various forms, especially as follow-up to Conference Resolution 2/79.

13. Following the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, the first that substantially addressed the agricultural sector, the IGGs played an active role in assessing the impact of the resultant agreements on trade for the various commodities. The implications of the Agreement on Agriculture, on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the phasing out of the Multifibre Agreement have all been examined in some degree by the various IGGs concerned. These discussions have heightened awareness among countries of the need for adequate preparation for future rounds of negotiations, as called for under Commitment Four of the WFS Plan of Action.

14. In the area of commodity development measures, 9 of the FAO IGGs and the Sub-Groups (in addition to the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade) have been designated by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) as the International Commodity Bodies (ICBs) responsible for defining commodity-specific development strategies and for initiating, prioritizing and supervising projects for the commodities concerned. The IGG on Jute did not seek status because of the existence of the International Jute Organisation, the IGG on Cocoa was inactive, and the IGG on Wine and Vine Products did not deal with a priority commodity grouping of the CFC. As a group, the FAO IGGs in their capacity as ICBs have mobilized US$54 million since 1993 for commodity development projects (see document CCP: 99/16).

15. Despite the flexibility demonstrated by the IGGs in addressing issues of interest to their members, the following are some of the questions which should nevertheless be considered in order to evaluate their role and structure: 1) Is the commodity coverage of the IGGs still relevant in the light of trade developments over the last few decades? 2) To what extent do the activities of the IGGs duplicate or overlap those of other organizations? 3) To what extent are the IGGs as such necessary for their current and prospective functions to be carried out? 4) How can the actual impact or effectiveness of individual groups be measured? There may well be other questions which the CCP would wish to raise in assessing the role of the IGGs.


16. One of the criteria for the establishment of an IGG, is that the commodity(ies) covered by the IGG should be either important in world trade or particularly important to a group of countries. All the commodities covered by the existing bodies satisfy one or other of these criteria, most of them both.

17. The currently existing IGGs cover commodities which as a group account for a significant share of world agricultural trade. In 1996, the value of world exports covered by these bodies was US$225 billion, or 45 percent of total trade in agricultural (excluding fishery and forestry) products.

18. By comparison with earlier periods, the share of world agricultural trade accounted for by the IGGs has declined slightly. This is partly the result of the increasing diversification of trade, both horizontally and vertically, with dynamic growth taking place in so-called non-traditionals, as well as an increasing proportion of trade in processed or semi-processed form. The value of trade accounted for by individual IGGs is shown in Appendix 1.

19. In view of these developments, certain IGGs have expanded their coverage, particularly when analysis of end-use demand is significant for understanding the market. Thus, some IGGs devote considerable attention to developments in demand in the processed sector and in some cases to competing products. For example, the IGG on Citrus Fruit deals also with citrus products and the IGG on Hard Fibres deals also with fibre manufactures and competing polypropylene fibre and products.

20. Some IGGs might benefit from extending their coverage to related products in order to better serve the evolving needs of member countries. A cursory examination of the value of trade indicates that there are a number of important commodities for which no intergovernmental forum exists. These include dairy products, pulses, and roots and tubers.4 Economic outlook work and trade analysis for these commodity groups might be undertaken under the auspices of an IGG with an expanded mandate or alternatively in commodity or outlook conferences organized on an ad hoc basis (see paragraph 34 below).

21. For developmental work exclusively, the CFC recently requested that the CCP consider whether a number of so-called "orphan" commodities might be adopted by the FAO IGGs (in their capacity as ICBs) to allow the intergovernmental endorsement required for the presentation of projects to the Fund. The orphan commodities include a number of items which are already covered by the IGGs, and thus present no problem as regards coverage (see document CCP: 99/16).5

22. However, some others6 are not covered by an IGG or by any other intergovernmental organization. A possible coverage by existing ICBs of these products might be as follows: spices, essential oils, medicinal herbs and cut flowers in the Sub-Group on Tropical Fruits; melons, nuts, non-tropical fruits, and vegetables in the IGG on Citrus Fruits; dairy products (for which there is no longer another international commodity body) in the IGG on Meat.


23. Over the years, the CCP launched IGGs mainly for commodities for which no or little duplication existed with the work of other international bodies. Thus, no IGGs were established for coffee, sugar, rubber, cotton, dairy products and wool for which international commodity bodies existed at that time. The IGG on Cocoa, abolished at the 61st Session of the CCP, had ceased meeting in 1975 following the setting up of the International Cocoa Organization.

24. For the existing IGGs the situation in respect of commodity coverage by other organizations is as follows:

IGGs for which no other intergovernmental fora exist

IGGs for which other intergovernmental fora exist with some overlap

25. For these IGGs there exist parallel international, technical commodity bodies, which, however, are not dealing at all or in any depth with longer-run global trade and market outlook matters. These are the International Rice Commission (IRC), the International Vine and Wine Office (OIV), and the International Jute Organisation (IJO). Details of the areas of activity of these organizations were provided to the Committee at its 60th Session.7 In the case of two of these organizations, the OIV and the IJO, there have been some more recent developments reported below.

27. As regards jute, the IGG was charged with information collection and dissemination, the analysis of market developments and trends, including on competition with synthetics, and was designated by member countries as the focal point for analysis and monitoring of the impact of environmental legislation on trade in jute. The IJO was established in 1984 with responsibility for promoting research and development and market promotion, while continuing the consideration of possible stabilization measures.

28. The overlap of the functions of the IGG on Grains with those of the International Grains Council (IGC) is limited to the analysis of the current market situation and short-term outlook and grain policies discussions. Until 1995, the IGC covered only wheat, but its mandate was extended to encompass coarse grains in 1995. The IGC is charged with administering the International Grains Trade Convention, which seeks to promote international cooperation in all aspects of grains trade through information sharing and consultations on market and policy developments and the Food Aid Convention, which seeks to secure pledges of food aid to developing countries to reach established targets.

29. By contrast, in addition to market analysis and short-term outlook work the IGG on Grains also undertakes studies on longer-term projections for wheat and coarse grains, aspects not covered by the IGC. Also, the IGG increasingly focuses on special economic and trade as well as scientific and technical issues of particular interest to developing countries. The former comprise the impact of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations, price instability and the transmission intensity of international price movements on domestic markets, the global stock-to-utilization ratio for cereals as a yardstick for global food security, the implications of the use of risk management tools and the effects of changes in the structure of ocean shipping for access to grain of importing developing countries. Emerging scientific and technical issues include the trade implications of environmental and biotechnological developments. Closely related to the latter aspects is the IGG's function as an ICB for indigenous/traditional grains to sponsor commodity development measures vis-à-vis the CFC in the interest of developing countries producing these crops.8 The orientation of these functions of the IGG is a reflection of its membership comprising a large number of importing developing countries, and particularly LIFDCs and LDCs, while the IGC, apart from the nine chief exporters of grains, has sixteen developing and five developed countries as members.


30. In an international environment where the availability of reliable and up-to-date information is vital for enhancing participation in international trade and providing a basis for policy analysis, what is the specific role of the IGGs? In theory, the information function could be maintained by the Secretariat without the IGGs as such. However, both the quality and detail of information would be affected. In preparation for IGG sessions, a great deal of effort goes into compiling detailed statistics and information from public and private sources which would not be routinely available. In addition, the sessions normally provide a valuable forum for producers and consumers (either separately or together) to exchange information and ideas and consult on matters of mutual interest - in some cases the only intergovernmental forum available. Also the work of the Secretariat is undoubtedly enhanced by continuing contacts with experts participating in the sessions, and by the evaluation and supervision provided by member countries.

31. Alternative means for carrying out this function are thus difficult to identify unless there is a change in the type of information provided. In a period when many national information services are either being reorganized or scaled back, reliable and comprehensive information for major commodities can provide useful, and relatively cost-effective support, to member country's analytical services. However, if a strong commitment were made by member countries, such information could continue to be generated through network arrangements. While reducing the costs associated with meetings, such arrangements normally require relatively intensive secretariat management, as evidenced by such a network recently established for dairy products. Therefore, on balance, it is doubtful that significant savings would result.

32. As regards analytical work on substantive technical or policy issues, this is normally carried out following guidance given in IGG sessions or by the CCP. A means for prioritizing work and identifying commodity-specific issues of concern to member countries, including developing countries, would need to be devised. This could be undertaken by the CCP but would imply that the Committee might have to devote much more time to the discussion of matters affecting specific commodities than is currently the case.

33. In the light of the increasingly technical and scientific developments and measures affecting trade (biotechnology, SPS, etc.) and the continuation of the reform process likely to resume in 1999, the IGGs could have an important analytical role in clarifying the impact of these on trade of individual commodities, including for developing countries. Again, this function might be assumed by the CCP itself, though not in anything like the same detail as currently is the case for individual commodities.

34. As regards the consultative function on commodity issues, an alternative to individual IGG sessions could be ad hoc commodity conferences, possibly covering groups or "clusters" of commodities, including some not covered by IGGs. For example, a commodity conference on fruits, including bananas, citrus and tropical fruits, could be extended to other temperate fruits and vegetables. A conference on raw materials could cover not only hard fibres, jute and hides and skins, but also cotton and rubber. A conference on basic foods could be organized with various combinations of commodities, including grains, rice, meat and oilseeds as well as dairy products.

35. The costs of such conferences to the Programme of Work and Budget could probably be largely offset by reduced meetings of individual commodity groups. In addition there might be opportunities for further offsetting costs through seeking host facilities and charging registration fees while still allowing free participation for an agreed number of participants from member countries. This approach was tested in the Asia and Pacific Sugar Conference held in 1997 in cooperation with the Government of Fiji and the International Sugar Organization.

36. However, ad hoc commodity conferences are lacking in the authority to formulate binding recommendations. Although the use which is made of this authority has become less significant in the IGGs because of reduced government intervention in commodity markets, it still provides a means of defining international consensus or broad viewpoints on commodity market and policy issues.

37. As regards the commodity development responsibilities of the IGGs as ICBs for CFC project work, these bodies with their composition of producing and consuming member countries have been legally charged with the task of developing, sponsoring, prioritizing, supervising and in some instances implementing projects. The ICBs are the legally recognized entities on behalf of which project agreements, involving financial accountability, are signed with the CFC. No practical alternative means of carrying out this task are apparent.


38. It is difficult to develop objective indicators of the effectiveness of the IGGs. For example, the generating of statistical information or the issuance of technical reports may be indicators in their own right, but the extent to which these materials are used by member countries and the role they have in contributing to resolving commodity and trade problems are difficult to determine. Since early 1998, IGG documents and statistical reports are being increasingly placed on the Internet, and this has no doubt improved their access to interested users, but it is difficult to track the numbers and types of users.

39. One aspect of effectiveness relates to levels of resource use, though again it is not possible to establish a measurable link between resource use and the quality and usefulness of outputs. To assist the 112th Session of Council in June 1997 in its review of FAO statutory bodies and panels of experts, some efficiency indicators were developed for Commissions and Committees (Document CL112/20, Annex II Tables, Group C). For the IGGs these indicators were based on cost information in 1992-96, that is prior to the implementation of the savings measures recommended by the CCP. Even so, the estimated average regular programme costs (including staff time) of the IGG sessions were about average compared to the costs of sessions of global commissions and committees taken as a group (ratio of 0.9), while the cost per session of the IGGs was somewhat below the average (ratio of 0.7). Since then the average costs of the IGG sessions have been reduced significantly (see Table 1 below).

40. In comparison with the international commodity organizations established in connection with various agreements, the budgets of the IGGs are modest, even including estimates of the staff time and other resources required for programme implementation.9 The estimated average total costs per biennium, including staff charges for an IGG session, held once in a biennium, have been reduced to about US$250 000.

41. Another possible indicator of effectiveness, albeit indirect, is the willingness of member countries to host sessions of IGGs. In recent years, numerous sessions have been hosted by member countries, leading to lower direct costs to FAO as the host countries assumed all major charges associated with the operation of the meeting. Presumably, the advantage of hosting commodity-specific meetings, both in terms of exposure of the domestic commodity sector and of the broadening of technical and trade contacts internationally, has been an important factor in determining the willingness of member countries to assume the responsibility for these sessions.10 However, the CCP at its 61st Session drew attention to the need to take into account both participation and cost concerns in deciding whether IGG sessions should be held away from FAO Headquarters.

42. Participation might also be considered a proxy for the effectiveness of IGGs in mobilizing international interest and understanding of commodity issues. The share of world trade covered by countries participating in the various IGGs is shown in Appendix 1.

43. The ability to mobilize funds for commodity development work may also be considered an indicator of the effectiveness of the IGGs. To date the Groups have mobilized US$54 million for this purpose.


44. The main thrust behind the consideration of reform of the statutory bodies of FAO in recent years has been to seek savings. Increasing attention is also being given to working methods which should be adapted to yield greater efficiencies while providing the services required by member countries. The following sections outline progress which has been made in instituting savings associated with the work of the IGGs and areas where further efficiencies might be obtained.


45. The 61st Session of the CCP reviewed the savings measures which had been instituted at its request in the preceding two year period. As a result of reductions in the frequency of sessions, their duration, and length of documentation, the costs of IGG sessions declined by about 50 percent. Significant additional savings had been achieved through the hosting of some IGG sessions by member countries. The Committee encouraged the Secretariat to consolidate these improvements and to implement further cost savings measures which would not compromise the quality of output of the IGGs. Particular mention was made of innovative use of information technology, networking arrangements and the organization of joint sessions of related IGGs on a selective basis.

46. Since the 61st Session of the CCP, the cost structure of IGG sessions has been maintained at reduced levels. Table 1 provides information on the evolution of average per session costs since 1992-93 prior to the reforms. During the current 1998 -99 biennium some further reductions in average per session costs will be achieved by the holding of joint meetings of some IGGs. The convening of selected IGG sessions away from Headquarters with the host country assuming responsibility for direct costs will also contribute to containing direct meeting charges. The impact of these measures can be seen from the total expenditures for IGG sessions, also shown in Table 1. While the data provided for the first three periods reflect actual expenditures, those for the last period include some estimates for sessions being held in late 1998 and in 1999. Under the present structure of the IGGs and with their current operational procedures, there is little scope for further cost reductions.

Table 1 - Average per session costs and total expenditures


Preparatory Documents

Final Report

Direct Meeting Costs

Number of Sessions

Total Expenditures


Average costs per session (...000 US$...)


000 US$



















1998-99 1






1 Includes estimates for sessions not yet held.

2 Includes joint sessions of 4 IGGs: Jute and Hard Fibres and Grains and Rice; and back to back sessions of the IGG on Meat and the Sub-group on Hides and Skins.


Review of rules of procedures of IGGs

47. Conference Resolution 13/97 requested inter alia that all statutory bodies review their rules of procedure in order to streamline inter-action among participants at meetings and promote task orientation. The details of how these objectives were to be met were left to the bodies themselves to define. However, one approach would be to instruct all IGGs, as far as possible given the situation of individual commodities, to allow only limited time for discussion of information items while focusing on substantive and task-oriented issues. A measure of this sort would reduce the time required for deliberations of situation and outlook items. However, the information functions of the IGGs would need to be maintained through the tabling of market intelligence at sessions and through its dissemination (both electronic and by other means).

Reports of sessions

48. Final reports of IGG sessions are currently relatively short and cover mainly conclusions and recommendations. However, the need for approval during the session absorbs time and resources which might otherwise be saved if the reports were prepared by the Secretariat after the session. Such procedures are followed in a number of international commodity organizations, although the nature of these reports tend to be a listing of decisions with little coverage of trade and policy deliberations. In several IGGs, one feature attracting participation is the importance attached to the reflection of major issues in the report. While still seeking further efficiencies, provision could be made for preparation of the final report after the session by the Secretariat or by a rapporteur if controversial or complex issues arise.

Joint meetings

49. While the merging of IGGs is a relatively simple process, the creation of appropriate intergovernmental bodies or machinery to deal with commodity market and trade developments can take many years.11 Therefore, joint sessions of existing groups constitute a more flexible and practical way of dealing with broad commodity issues. Pending complete review of its intergovernmental groups, the 61st Session of the CCP requested the Secretariat to seek to organize joint meetings of related IGGs on a selective basis. A joint meeting in December 1998 of the IGG on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres and the IGG on Hard Fibres is in accordance with that request, and a joint meeting of the IGG on Rice and the IGG on Grains will be convened in June 1999. In both cases, it is planned to examine complementary as well as competitive issues between the commodities concerned. The experience of the Jute/Hard Fibres Joint Meeting will be reported to the 62nd Session of the CCP.

50. However, complete commonality may not be always possible. Therefore, consideration might be given to alternating joint meetings of related Groups with individual IGG sessions in each biennium. Related Groups would include Jute/Hard Fibres, Citrus/Bananas/Tropical Fruits, Grains/Rice with the possible addition of Oilseeds, or alternatively Meat/Oilseeds. However, the latter combination could raise some difficulties for the Subgroup on Hides and Skins which normally meets back to back with the IGG on Meat and which deals with a commodity grouping which has very little in common with feed/livestock issues.


51. While the CCP's recommendations regarding cost reduction for the IGGs have been implemented, it may now wish to consider various approaches to resolving its concerns regarding the mandate and structure of the IGGs, as well as their effectiveness. The following are proposals for CCP recommendations grouped according to whether they deal mainly with issues of structure or with operational methods.


52. As called for by the 29th Conference, the subsidiary bodies listed in Annex B of Resolution 13/97 are considered abolished unless the Committee considers, taking into account the financial and programme implications, that there are overriding reasons for retaining any such bodies in existence. The financial implications are few. There would be some savings from the abolition of the IGG on Wine and Vine Products, and none for the other bodies which are inactive.

53. Thus, unless decided otherwise the following intergovernmental groups would be considered abolished:

54. In addition, the following sub-groups of existing IGGs would be considered abolished:

55. Bearing in mind any decisions taken by the CCP concerning changes in the structure of individual groups, IGGs should examine their commodity coverage to assess its relevance in the light of changing market conditions and recommend as appropriate modifications to improve the relevance of their work. Such modifications might include greater coverage of processed products and the extension of their mandates to related commodities. Any suggestions should be reported to the CCP at its 63rd Session, along with a report from the Secretariat concerning the resource implications for implementing these proposals.

56. The IGGs might consider, within the resources made available to them for their regular activities, accommodating work on orphan commodities designed to facilitate the sponsoring and implementation of projects for CFC funding. This action could be undertaken on a trial basis and the results reviewed by the CCP at its 63rd Session.

57. Recognizing that the merging of IGGs might not necessarily improve their effectiveness since the market, technical, scientific and country involvement in the various commodities may differ substantially, emphasis should instead be placed on convening joint meetings of related IGGs to deal with thematic issues of common concern. Such joint sessions, held once in a biennium, would alternate with sessions of the individual IGGs in the subsequent biennium to deal in depth with commodity-specific issues. However, routine sessions should be avoided (see paragraph 60 below).

58. The CCP may wish to endorse the approach used in organizing the joint meeting of the IGGs on Hard Fibres and on Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres in December 1998 and the joint meeting of the IGGs on Grains and on Rice in June 1999, for use in future biennia.

59. Efforts should be made to organize ad hoc conferences concerned with not only related commodities covered by IGGs but also other complementary products of importance in world agricultural production and trade. In including non-IGG commodities, the cooperation of existing international commodity organizations/institutions should be sought. Also innovative solutions to attract extra-budgetary resources for this purpose should be pursued. The Secretariat should report to the 63rd Session of the CCP its experience with such alternatives.


60. To avoid a chronological pattern of meetings with an unnecessary proliferation of routine sessions, all IGGs should carefully consider the timing of their future sessions so as to suspend activities when there is no pressure of events to meet.

61. In the case of suspension of activities, or extensions of the periods between sessions, those IGGs which have certain decisional responsibilities (for example, as International Commodity Bodies vis-à-vis the Common Fund), should ensure that adequate arrangements are in place to allow them to carry out the necessary functions. Such arrangements could involve decision-making by the bureau of the IGG, in consultation where necessary with other members.

62. All IGGs should to the extent possible and bearing in mind the market situation of individual commodities, adopt task-oriented methods of work. In particular, they should focus on substantive and technical issues, while situation and outlook materials should be tabled for information purposes and also given the widest possible dissemination, including electronically.

63. On a trial basis and for selected IGGs to be determined in consultation with their Chairpersons, the final report of the session recording recommendations and major conclusions will be prepared by the Secretariat or a Rapporteur and despatched to participants within two weeks. The Secretariat should report on the results of this trial to the 63rd Session of the CCP.

64. All cost-reduction measures which have been implemented should be continued, both as regards direct meeting costs and documentation.


Date of




Value of Trade in million US $


Average number of
Members & Observers
Participant Share of Trade














2 501

3 299

7 142







2 595

5 347

5 609


. . .

. . .

. . .


Coconut and Coconut products,
expanded to Oilseeds, Oil and Fats in 1965

16 548

26 184

55 038







20 842

23 497

40 898






Citrus Fruits 1/

1 933

4 301

8 904






Jute, Kenaf and Allied Fibres 2/











1 830

4 863






Hard Fibres 3/









Wine and Vine products

2 382

5 434

11 954







1 055

2 053

2 471







10 870

20 935

45 749






Sub-group on Hides and Skins (of IGG on Meat)4/

7 602

20 745

45 241






Sub-group on Tropical Fruits (of IGG on Bananas)5/



2 079





(excluding Tropical Fruits for the years 1976 and 1986; including Cocoa only for the years 1976 and 1986 )

68 054

114 592

225 402


(excluding Fishery and Forestry, but including processed of Jute, Hard Fibres and H/Skins)

139 759

246 949

504 239


Percent IGG on Total Agricultural Products
(excluding Tropical Fruits for the years 1976 and 1986; including Cocoa only for the years 1976 and 1986 )





1/ - Includes Citrus processed; 2/ - Includes Jute manufactures; 3/ - Includes Hard Fibres manufactures; 4/ - Includes leather from Bovine, sheep and goats and leather footwear; 5/ - Includes Avocados, Mangoes, Papayas and Pineapples fresh and processed

1 An evaluation of FAO's programme in support of agricultural trade development was considered by the 27th Session of Conference in 1993: Programme Evaluation Report 1992-93, C 93/4, "In-depth Review of Thematic Topics: FAO Activities in Support of the Development of International Trade".

2 The Criteria and Procedures for the Establishment, Supervision, Suspension and Termination of FAO Commodity Study Groups were adopted by the CCP at its 33rd Session in June 1960.

3 At its 61st Session the CCP decided that the Sub-Group on Tropical Fruits should be merged with the IGG on Bananas into one group with separate sub-groups dealing with bananas and tropical fruits. The Terms of Reference of the enlarged IGG will be submitted to the 62nd Session of the CCP for approval.

4 In 1997 the IGG on Grains agreed to extend its coverage to roots, tubers and pulses but only for the specific purpose of sponsoring CFC projects of interest to developing countries.

5 Orphan commodities covered by an IGG:
IGG on Grains covers cassava, dried peas and beans, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and yams;
Sub-Group on Tropical Fruits covers pineapples, avocados, mangoes, passion fruit, papayas, guavas, litchis, mangosteen, durian and star fruit;
IGG on Citrus Fruit covers limes.

6 Cashew; cut flowers, dairy products, essential oils, medicinal herbs, melons, non-tropical fruits, spices, vegetables.

7 Document CCP: 95/11 "Review of the Role and Functioning of the Intergovernmental Commodity Groups".

8 The IGC has also been designated as ICB with a focus on wheat, maize and other grains, i.e. grains playing an important role in international trade.

9 International Coffee Organization (US$4.1 million), International Grains Council (US$2.3 million), International Cocoa Organization (US$2.1 million), International Sugar Organization (US$1.4 million), International Cotton Advisory Committee (US$1.2 million) and International Jute Organization (US$1.1 million).

10 Since the 61st Session of the CCP, the following IGG sessions were hosted by member countries: IGG on Tea, 12th Session in July 1997 in Indonesia; Subgroup on Tropical Fruits, 1st Session in May 1998 in Thailand; IGG on Citrus Fruit, 12th Session in September 1998 in Spain; IGG on Meat, 17th Session back to back with Sub-group on Hides and Skins, 6th Session, in November 1998 in the Republic of South Africa.

11 The comparison between merging of groups and joint sessions was provided to the 60th Session of the CCP in document CCP: 95/11.

12 The Committee may wish to reaffirm the decision taken at its 61st Session to abolish this Group.