From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Petar Trojanovic (Federal Minister for Economy and Internal Trade of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet all of you, participants in the World Food Summit, on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Since November 2001 Yugoslavia has been once again a full member of FAO.

In that context, Yugoslavia's agricultural policy has been successfully fulfilling one of its strategic objectives – ensuring food security. In this way we are directly contributing to the achievement of global goals – the eradication of poverty and ensuring better access to food for all.

The pronounced shrinking of the volume of food production in the transition countries is probably one of the expected consequences of their economic reforms and structural adjustment. However, these consequences of an abrupt collapse of the old system attended by slow progress in building a new one, have on the whole, been much more numerous and serious than was expected at first. In some countries they could even be described as dramatic.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia managed to maintain the level of production attained at the beginning of the decade all the way up to 1999 although having to cope with much more difficult general economic circumstances (judging by comparative FAO statistics). This was undoubtedly so, thanks to the predominantly market-based nature of the inherited national economic milieu, the vitality in terms of structures and resources in agricultural and industrial systems, as well as the predominant continuity of private property in agriculture.

The comparative agricultural and food trends in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in the countries in the region undoubtedly point to the relative superiority of agricultural resources, vitality of the organizational-business structure and a high level of adaptability of the Yugoslav agricultural management to the very changeable production and market conditions.

Judging by Yugoslavia's balance sheet, food is undoubtedly, physically, available to all in the country all the time. Regrettably, in the past few years, due to the economic crisis and recession, as well as to the other mentioned factors, there have been certain population categories such as the unemployed, pensioners, refugees and displaced persons who could not afford to buy good quality food. As a result, Yugoslavia, a country that used to be among the donors of the World Food Programme, has, regrettably, become a recipient of its aid.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia supports the efforts to facilitate international trade in foodstuff in order to ensure their availability to all, irrespective of the farming season or geographical origin. By the end of 2002, Yugoslavia will, therefore, conclude bilateral free trade agreements with all the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as with all the other countries in the region. With some of them we have been pursuing trade activities completely freely for several years now.

We also believe that in addition to trade liberalization, customs duties need to be reduced or phased out to ensure full food security. It is further necessary to intensively work toward the multilateral harmonization of technical regulations, standards and quality requirements. In this field, FAO, the World Health Organization research and technical bodies, Codex Alimentarius, the Joint Additives Committee, etc. are extremely important. We must not allow, however, economic trade liberalization to be substituted by technical prohibitions. In other words, non-trade measures should not become an obstacle to international food exchanges.

For all of these reasons, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fully supports the views set out in the proposed documents of this Summit. Their implementation, we are convinced, will reinforce the political will among the responsible factors worldwide to join forces to make progress toward our common goal – the implementation of the basic human right and freedom: the right to food and freedom from hunger.

My country will try to do its utmost, to the extent possible, to make a contribution to that end.

Thank you for your attention.

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