|CCP:2001/3 (CCP:GR 99/6 - RI 99/6)
COMMITTEE ON COMMODITY PROBLEMS
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE 28TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP ON GRAINS AND THE 39TH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL GROUP ON RICE
Rome, 22 - 24 September 1999
1. The 28th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains and the 39th Session of the Intergovernmental Group on Rice were held jointly from 22 to 24 September 1999 at FAO Headquarters, Rome. The meeting was attended by delegates from the following 67 members: Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, European Community (Member Organization), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In addition, the following international organizations were present: the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), the International Grains Council (IGC) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The following non-governmental organizations also attended: Grain and Feed Trade Committee of the EC (COCERAL) and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The list of participants was circulated as document CCP:GR/99 Inf. 3-RI/99 Inf. 3.
2. Mr H. de Haen, Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Department, welcomed delegates on behalf of the Director-General of FAO.
3. Mr H. Hedley (Canada) was elected Chairperson. Mr M.S. Noori-Naeini (Islamic Republic of Iran) and Mr P. Solorzano (Venezuela) were elected First and Second Vice-chairpersons, respectively.
4. The Groups adopted the Agenda, CCP:GR 99/1-RI 99/1. The list of documents is given in the Annex.
5. An informal symposium on Developments in Cereal Biotechnology and the Implications for International Trade in Cereals was organized in conjunction with the meeting. Delegates expressed appreciation for the Secretariat's initiative in organizing the symposium.
6. The Groups reviewed the world cereal situation for production, utilization, trade, stocks and prices in 1998/99 and examined prospects for 1999/2000 on the basis of documents CCP:GR 99/2-RI 99/2, CCP:GR 99/CRS 2-RI 99/CRS 2 and CCP:GR 99/CRS 3-RI 99/CRS 3. Several delegates reported on recent cereal market developments in their countries.
7. The Groups agreed with the Secretariat's analysis and noted that while world wheat and coarse grains production was forecast to decline slightly in 1999, rice production was expected to reach an all-time high. Also, it was noted that world trade in cereals was likely to expand in 1999/2000, mostly in response to higher demand for wheat and coarse grains. The Groups agreed that world utilization could exceed production, thus necessitating a small reduction in stocks. With lower grain stocks, international prices for wheat and coarse grains were likely to rise slightly from the current low levels. In the case of rice, however, reduced demand prospects combined with ample exportable supplies were likely to result in lower prices. It was stressed that because of the continuing large stocks in major exporting countries, a strong recovery in international grain prices was not envisaged in the short-term. It was further noted that the decline in cereal prices in recent years had adversely affected plantings and had given rise to a resumption of support measures in a number of cereal producing countries.
8. Recognising the importance of cereals in food security, the attention of the Groups was drawn to the financial burden of increased imports to cover the domestic shortfall in the aftermath of a sudden decline in production in certain countries due to unforeseen climatic conditions, which often jeopardises important national investment and development programmes in the developing countries. To alleviate this problem, it was suggested that FAO should further analyze the situation and report on existing mechanisms and possible means of addressing these issues.
9. The Groups reviewed the results of the FAO cereals projections to the year 2005 on the basis of the document CCP: GR 99/2-RI 99/2 and generally agreed with the broad trends outlined in the report. Some delegates queried the underlying assumptions and structural linkages of the model. Others provided additional information regarding recent policy changes that had not been incorporated in the World Food Model.
10. The delegates took note of the policy implications of the FAO projections and conclusions contained in paragraphs 37 to 40. It recognised the significant role played by trade in achieving food security but also noted the importance of development of potential in domestic production, especially improving productivity, through technology transfer in increasing food production and enhancing food security over the long run. Although the role of food aid in alleviating food emergencies was recognised, it was not viewed as an effective policy tool to address long term food security issues. The Groups stressed the need for FAO to provide technical and policy assistance to developing countries in order to improve their access to technological innovations and their capacity to adopt them.
11. The Groups reviewed the current developments in cereal biotechnology and their potential implications on international trade in cereals on the basis of document CCP: GR99/3-RI99/3. General appreciation was expressed for the balanced nature of the report. Among the several complex issues discussed were the potential impacts on biosafety, in particular as related to human health and food labelling, biodiversity and environment. Some delegates also reported on the regulatory processes related to biotechnology employed in their countries.
12. The Groups acknowledged the many positive benefits of the new technology, especially with respect to its potential to improve yields, to overcome the constraints posed by poor climate and soil conditions in some developing regions and to enhance the nutritional value of food. A number of delegates, however, expressed concerns about the ability of developing countries to take advantage of this new technology because of the difficulties that they have in accessing them, as well as the lack of capacity of small farmers to absorb them. Also of concern to some members was the possibility of some developing countries becoming increasingly dependent on imports from a small number of suppliers of genetically modified seeds.
13. The Groups noted that objective information from reliable sources was difficult to access and requested FAO to take a more proactive role in collecting and disseminating information in the field. In this regard, the Secretariat was asked to develop a repository of information on biotechnology developments affecting the cereals sector, based on contributions from members of the Groups. The Groups also recommended that the Secretariat should undertake further in-depth analysis, and should report to future sessions, regarding the implications of biotechnology developments for production and trade of cereals, with particular reference to the potential economic impacts, both positive and negative, in particular on developing countries. Given the wide implications of these biotechnology developments, the Groups welcomed the collaboration within FAO to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to assessing the impact and issues for the agricultural sector. They stressed that FAO had a significant role to play, including advising governments on regulatory issues including assistance in drawing up national legislation, harmonizing standards and protocols for food safety and nutrition and testing and release in areas covered by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the IPPC respectively, building insitutional capacity and complementing activities being undertaken by other organizations and institutions.
14. The delegates reviewed the changes in rice policies during the 1996-99 period in relation to the Guidelines for National and International Action on Rice, with the help of document CCP:GR 99/4-RI 99/4 and its supplement. These documents had been prepared drawing on the responses of the members to the questionnaire sent by the Secretariat and other sources of information. Many delegates provided clarifications and updated information on the policies implemented by their governments of relevance to the rice sector. In general, the review showed that there had been many instances of progress in reducing border protection measures, export subsidies, and production support, although these had been facilitated by high international prices that had prevailed until recently.
15. The Secretariat was requested in future Reviews to distinguish between support measures having direct effects on trade from those that are mainly aimed at improving the food situation in the country. A request was also made to highlight the linkages between policies on production and trade and their impact on the environment, as provided for in Guideline F. Delegates noted that such analysis can be done with the information from members.
16. The Groups noted that reduced flows of concessional or food aid rice shipments did not necessarily reflect a change in donors' policies, but could instead derive from lower requirements in recipient countries.
17. This item was reviewed on the basis of document CCP:GR 99/5-RI 99/5. The Groups noted the progress of various projects that they had sponsored and the positive results achieved up to date. However, some delegates pointed to the lack of regional and commodity balance in the projects approved thus far, and recommended that efforts be made to correct the imbalance.
18. The Groups discussed the two requests put forward by the Secretariat for their consideration:
19. Both proposals were approved by consensus. However, several delegates stressed that, to the extent possible, every effort should be made to ensure that the initial project profiles are discussed by the Groups first before being submitted to the CFC and that the intersessional mechanism achieves transparency, equity and accountability. Also, in cases where substantial changes were made to the original project proposals, the members of the Groups should be informed of those changes. Furthermore, the Groups requested that, upon completion of a project, information on its results and impacts be reported to the formal Sessions.
20. The Groups expressed appreciation for the reports provided by the representatives from the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), the International Grains Council (IGC) and the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) on their activities related to cereals. The Groups noted the OECD's inclusion of the rice sector in its latest medium-term projections, and its decision to hold a meeting of the Working Group on Cereals, Animal Feeds and Sugar in conjunction the Working Group on Meat and Dairy Products in January 2000. The Groups were informed of the CFC-sponsored Round Table Meeting on Commodity Development in Africa which would take place in Egypt in November 1999. The Groups were also informed of the new Food Aid Convention that came into effect in July 1999 and the changes that had been introduced with regards to its commodity coverage and nature of acceptable donations. It was noted that the next June 2000 Session of the IGC and the Food Aid Committee and the IGC Conference would take place in Canada.
21. The Groups considered the implications of the recommendations of the 62nd Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) referring to the mandate and operational procedures of the Intergovernmental Groups. The delegates expressed their satisfaction with the arrangements made for their joint session, noting that none of the substantial issues of concern to the respective Groups had been lost in the deliberations. The Groups, moreover, endorsed proposals to organise further joint sessions, including whenever appropriate other related commodity groups, such as the Intergovernmental Group on Oilseeds, Oils and Fats. In this regard, there was general support for the idea of holding an international conference with a view to further improving understanding of broad commodity issues and encouraging private sector participation. The Groups endorsed creative and interactive initiatives with other organisations, including through joint meetings and studies. It was pointed out that use might be made of the commodity expertise of the IGGs to study and seek alternative approaches to resolve specific problems or policy issues identified by the CCP.
22. The Groups noted that the CCP intended to re-examine the functioning of its IGGs at its next session, including their role under changing international trading conditions and follow-up to the World Food Summit. In this regard, it was suggested that the Terms of Reference of the two IGGs could be examined for possible extension and revision. However, the Groups could not reach a consensus on the extension of the commodity coverage of the IGG on Grains to include a Sub-group on cassava, yams and sweet potatoes. Several delegates stressed the vital importance of these commodities for the food security of their populations, but some others expressed reservations about their inclusion in groups which in their view dealt essentially with international trade. The Groups, therefore, decided to request the CCP to review the issue at its next session, on the basis of information to be supplied by the Secretariat.
23. Bearing in mind the recommendations of the Committee on Commodity Problems and given the successful outcome of the joint meeting of the 28th Session of the IGG on Grains and the 39th Session of the IGG on Rice, the Groups suggested the extension of their next joint session to include the Intergovernmental Group on Oilseeds, Oils and Fats. The Groups requested the Director-General to determine date and place of the next joint session, after consultation with the Chairperson, taking into account the availability of resources and, especially, the schedule of other meetings.
|CCP:GR 99/1 - RI 99/1 Rev. 1||Provisional Agenda and Agenda Notes|
|CCP:GR 99/2 - RI 99/2||Cereal Projections to the year 2005|
|CCP:GR 99/3 - RI 99/3||Biotechnology Developments and Their Potential Impact on Trade in Cereals|
|CCP:GR 99/4 - RI 99/4||Follow-up to the Guidelines for National and International Action on Rice, 1996-1999|
|CCP:GR 99/4 Sup.1 - RI 99/4 Sup.1||Follow-up to the Guidelines for National and International Action on Rice, 1996-1999|
|CCP:GR 99/5 - RI 99/5||Developments Regarding the Common Fund for Commodities|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 1 - RI 99/CRS 1||Review of Market Developments and Short-term Outlook for Cereals|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 2 - RI 99/CRS 2||World Grains Situation and Outlook - Statistical Tables and Graphs|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 3 - RI 99/CRS 3||World Rice Situation and Outlook - Statistical Tables and Graphs|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 4 - RI 99/CRS 4||Cereal Projections to 2005 - Graphs|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 5 - RI 99/CRS 5||Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedures of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains and the Intergovernmental Group on Rice|
|CCP:GR 99/CRS 6 - RI 99/CRS 6||Forecast of Export Availability and Expected Import Demand for Rice in 1999|
|CCP:GR 99/Inf.1 - RI 99/Inf.1||Proposed Timetable and List of Documents|
|CCP:GR 99/Inf.2 - RI 99/Inf.2||EC Competence and Voting Rights|
|CCP:GR 99/Inf.3 - RI 99/Inf.3||List of Delegates and Observers|