His Excellency Lyle Vanclief (Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food of Canada)
I am certainly very pleased to be here at this Summit and to bring greetings from the Government of Canada.
In 1996, in a spirit of optimism fuelled by the approach of a new millennium, Canada, along with 186 other countries, made a commitment to work to cut world hunger in half by the year 2015. Five years later, now in the 21st century, while we can measure our achievements to date, much more needs to be done.
Canada is committed to working with our partners in the developed and developing countries to redouble our efforts to ensure that the goals we set five years ago are realized.
Canada is committed to international development and building the capacity of developing nations to enable them to become more food secure, to improve food quality and safety and to participate in the international trading system.
Canada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, has made a personal commitment to development. He has led the drive to focus attention on Africa and is working with African leaders through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development to help them address the immense challenges that they face.
Our Prime Minister is chairing the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada later this month where these issues will be discussed and Canada has set aside C$ 500 million in additional aid for Africa.
Canada recently announced a total of C$ 1 billion in new development assistance, and our Prime Minister pledged to increase Canada’s International Assistance by eight percent per year, doubling our current aid in eight or nine years.
Canada recognizes the importance of duty-free, quota-free market access for Least Developed Countries. Although Canada already has one of the most open schemes for preferential access for developing countries, we hope to announce further liberalization soon.
Agriculture is a key element in reducing hunger and improving incomes and livelihoods. Canada will be increasingly building agriculture into its development agenda.
Our focus will be on a country-owned, comprehensive approach as the most effective way to reduce hunger and poverty, particularly in the areas of capacity building and technology transfer. We are already working with a number of countries around the world and hope to expand our efforts.
In addition to development assistance, international trade also makes positive contributions to food security. The WTO is particularly important in developing a fair and market-oriented international trading system. The WTO recognizes the additional challenges developing countries face by providing them with more flexibility under the WTO Agreements, including the Agreement on Agriculture.
Special and differential treatment continues to be an important element, particularly in the Doha Development Round.
Canada is a strong supporter of the commitment to agricultural trade reform, including substantial improvements to market access; the elimination of all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support.
Our Prime Minister said recently at the International Monetary Conference that we in the developed world need to look at how our own policies are excluding the developing countries from the benefits of a market-based economy.
He pointed out “It is time for the United States and Europe to reduce agricultural subsidies. Right now, these subsidies exceed any benefit that African countries are getting through development assistance.”
The high level of subsidies depresses prices and effectively shuts out producers from developing countries and we are concerned that the recent decisions in the United States are moving in the wrong direction.
Only by succeeding in our WTO goals can the developed world ensure that global markets are more accessible to the developing world and that real progress in development will occur.
Canada is also working with the developing world in other ways. Canada has forgiven the development assistance debts of almost all Heavily Indebted Poor Countries.
Canada supports peace-building and emergency relief efforts around the world. We recently committed C$ 100 million to support the humanitarian and transition efforts of Afghanistan and will continue to work with the Afghan people to support their reconstruction and development.
Canada is providing technology transfer, research and development, and education and training as tools that developing countries can use to enhance their productivity and to market their products around the world.
Canada supports an integrated and country-owned approach to promote food security, with a strong emphasis on poverty reduction and economic growth. Special attention must be paid to the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, conflict and the disproportionate impact of food security of women and girls.
I am also pleased to announce that Canada has signed and ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Canada certainly congratulates FAO for the successful negotiations of the Treaty.
We look forward to working with FAO on the World Forestry Congress which Canada will be hosting in 2003.
Aquaculture and fisheries are areas, as well, where Canada has significant expertise to share with developing countries. We strongly promote the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its principles on fisheries practices.
At home, Canada is working on its own new agriculture policy that recognizes the essential nature of food safety, innovation and environmentally responsible production. Through our increased commitment to international development we will continue to build alliances with developing countries on agriculture.
Canada looks forward, with FAO, other international organizations, NGOs, the private sector and all the countries assembled here, building on our achievements, so that together we can reach our goal of cutting world hunger in half by the year 2015.
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