More on the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

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It is likely that agriculture will attract more international attention at the G8 Summer itself following this first G8 Agricultural Ministers’ Meeting. The food crisis is the one crisis that directly affects billions of people on earth, claiming lives every day. Still, the final communiqué represents much less of a breakthrough than hoped for. The outcome document seems to suggest a very “noisy” silence from the invited developing and emerging countries – we will be investigating whether this was a result of differences between delegations from the G8 on one side and developing and emerging country partners on the other.

During the press conference most questions from journalists were directed at developing countries who were asked specifically for their views on trade distortions that penalize them. The Italian agriculture Minister Zaia tried to point out the trade distortions that harm countries like Italy – not a good sign. The communiqué did not contain figures on resources for agricultural investments in Africa, or even an indication of a set of rules that should reduce or eliminate speculation. On the positive side those omissions mean we have plenty of room for manoeuvre in the run-up to La Maddalena. We will need that time to make sure that this agriculture summit does not turn out to have been one more exercise in empty rhetoric to save face, but not lives.

-Francesco Oddone

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