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Thursday, 23 February 2017

EU must take lead in linking trade in agriculture with the SDGs

Time to breathe new life into the WTO process. Agriculture plays a critical role in climate change – it is both a cause and a victim of it. And it plays a key role in the implementation of most of the SDGs. "We must get the sustainable development goals right, but we must also get trade in agriculture right, and we look to the EU to lead the way here", says the EESC. The EU is well positioned positively to lead this process. It is the largest exporter and importer of agricultural products, it has a proven interest in trade and sustainable development and it has the credibility to play an effective bridging role between developed and developing countries. "It is time for the EU to take the driver's seat in order to bring this agenda forward globally", said Jonathan Peel, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on Agriculture in trade negotiations, adopted on 22 February. "The EU should build on several recent reforms of the CAP. It has already shown at the previous WTO Ministerial Conference (held in Nairobi in 2015) that it has the ability to produce fresh and balanced thinking – crucial when so few were expecting a positive outcome there. Once more we look to the EU to be one step ahead of our trading partners". The decision to effectively eliminate agricultural export subsidies at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, with the EU playing a leading role, is a crucial step forward and proof that the WTO remains a viable and effective forum for multilateral trade negotiations.. The EESC argues that the "spirit of Doha" - as a concept for trade dialogue between developed and developing countries - must be preserved and enhanced. The EESC is advocating a global approach, although regional or bilateral negotiations also have a part to play. In such cases it is important to avoid overlapping or even conflicting rules. However, before taking on this task, the EU needs to build a clear picture of what impact these commitments will have. Therefore the EESC is urging the Commission to undertake an impact assessment of the possible effects on EU agriculture and trade policy resulting from the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement as well as the impact of recent EU trade agreements and trade globally. "It is now time for a fresh and balanced approach. The sustainable development goals are a global challenge and must form the basis of a fairer and more sustainable development of agriculture and trade of agricultural products", said Mr. Peel. Support schemes, market access, the way we grow crops, the challenge of food security and sustainability – all these challenges call for new and better solutions which only can be achieved in a common effort. In its opinion the EESC provides recommendations for multilateral progress in agriculture.

Source: EESC