Home » General » Text adopted – World hunger and the elimination of barriers to trade with the poorest countries – P5_TA(2003)0037 – Thursday, 30 January 2003 – Brussels – Final edition

The European Parliament

–   having regard to the Africa Hunger Alert campaign launched by the World Food Programme (WFP) on 16 December 2002,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the World Food Summit: five years later, held in Rome, Italy, from 10 to 13 June 2002,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2820/98 of 21 December 1998 applying a multiannual scheme of generalised tariff preferences for the period 1 July 1999 to 31 December 2001(1)
, as amended by Regulation (EC) No 416/2001(2)
(the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) initiative),

–   having regard to the ministerial declaration adopted by the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Doha on 14 November 2001,

–   having regard to the adoption of the US Farm Bill,

–   having regard to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report on hunger and development,

–   having regard to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) proposed by the African Union,

–   having regard to the European Union plan, presented on 4 December 2002, to strengthen the special and differentiated treatment granted to developing countries in the WTO framework,

–   having regard to the UN report on food security in the developing countries, presented by the UN Special Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2002,

–   having regard to the UN Conference on Trade and Development report of 2002 on the least-developed countries (LDCs), entitled ‘Escaping the Poverty Trap’,

A.   whereas many countries in Africa, Asia and Central America are currently facing catastrophic conditions caused primarily by shifting weather patterns, political instability, failed economic policies and HIV/Aids,

B.   whereas the scope and depth of the crisis is unprecedented and requires an unprecedented and urgent response, failing which the humanitarian community will not be able to counter these looming disasters,

C.   whereas in the specific case of southern Africa the traditional pattern of humanitarian assistance is simply not a viable option at this time, as the capacities of governments across the region to deal with the impact of the current humanitarian crisis have been weakened by the current and future implications of the HIV/Aids pandemic, which is threatening an entire generation of working-age adults and leaving in its wake millions of orphans,

D.   whereas, according to the abovementioned UNCTAD report on the LDCs, the number of people living in extreme poverty in LDCs for which data is available has more than doubled over the last 30 years, rising from 138 million in the 1960s to 307 million in the 1990s, and whereas, if current trends persist, the number of people living on less than USD 1 a day will rise from 307 million to 420 million by 2015,

E.   whereas 900 people around the world die of hunger every hour and 800 million people, including 300 million children, do not have sufficient food supplies,

F.   whereas the gap between the richest and the poorest has widened and, even worse, whereas the gap between the least-developed countries (LDCs) and other developing countries has grown even wider since the 1990s,

G.   whereas the 1996 World Food Summit set a deadline of 2015 by which to halve the number of people in the world who suffer from hunger and whereas this seems far from being achieved,

H.   whereas problems of food scarcity have often been made worse by poor governance and corruption,

I.   whereas the economies of the poorest countries are largely based on the primary sectors and agriculture in particular, which provides the greatest number of jobs,

J.   whereas food aid in itself is not an appropriate instrument to create long-term food security, but remains essential to deal with humanitarian crises of an unprecedented and unpredictable nature,

K.   whereas the best way to achieve long-term food security – which is of prime importance to the LDCs, which need domestic protection in order to be able to strengthen their own agriculture – is to implement a broad-based policy for sustainable development and growth and poverty reduction, and whereas the elimination of barriers to trade with the poorest countries constitutes an essential component of this policy,

L.   whereas public services can play an essential role to combat malnutrition and promote sustainable development,

M.   whereas in many LDCs the trade policy measures adopted hitherto by the EU have not succeeded in reducing the economic and social gap with other developing countries and the industrialised countries,

N.   whereas most of the LDCs have been unable to make the structural changes to their economies which are essential if they are to emerge from the LDC category,

O.   whereas tariff-free access without quantitative restrictions for products originating in LDCs can contribute to the LDCs’ development by encouraging the development of trade in these products,

P.   whereas the EU is the largest export market for agricultural products from developing countries,

Q.   whereas it is the responsibility of the European Union to make sure that its various policies are coherent,

R.   whereas an economy based on market laws must be regulated in the interests of the greatest number,

S.   whereas trade has a major impact on the survival of family-based agriculture and on the food autonomy and self-sufficiency of the least-developed countries,

T.   whereas imports of largely subsidised agricultural products into least developed countries discourage and often ruin local producers and whereas in consequence agriculture in developing countries should be protected against low world market prices;

U.   whereas the least developed countries have few competitive products to offer on the world market,

V.   whereas the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ initiative -which aims to eliminate the customs duties applied to the exports to the EU (apart from arms) of the 48 poorest countries in the world- is a first trade policy signal, and whereas it must be accompanied by other measures, both trade-related and, more generally, relating to cooperation and development policy, and must also be brought into line with the Cotonou agreement and the related trade protocols, maintaining stable prices for the main sensitive products of the family-type small farming economy in both northern and southern countries,

W.   whereas, apart from market access issues, including the non-tariff aspects, the Community should also address supply-side constraints and competitiveness, trade-related areas, trade development measures, technology transfers, access to information and global networks, strategies to promote investment and private sector development,

X.   having regard to the importance of regional economic integration and the obstacles to it, in particular the lack of infrastructure,

Y.   whereas it was agreed at Doha that sustainable development would constitute a general objective for the WTO negotiations,

Z.   whereas the Doha Declaration includes a number of commitments to tackle certain specific problems identified as major obstacles preventing the developing countries from securing a fairer share of world trade, in particular negotiations (on agriculture) aimed at substantial improvements in market access and the reduction of all forms of export subsidies; negotiations on trade in services, ‘conducted with a view to promoting … the development of … least-developed countries’; negotiations on market access for non-agricultural products ‘of export interest to developing countries’; reassertion of the principles on special and differentiated treatment applicable to the developing countries, in particular the least developed countries,

AA.   regarding it as extremely important to underwrite what was established at Doha,

BB.   whereas a recent World Bank study has shown that the liberalisation of international trade would be one of the major means of enabling over 320 million people to escape poverty by the year 2015,

CC.   whereas, according to World Bank estimates, the high level of duties imposed by the developed countries on the products exported by the developing countries (which, according to Oxfam, are on average four times higher than those imposed by the developing countries on the products exported by the developed countries) cost the developing countries around EUR 100 bn, or twice what they receive in aid;

1.  Expresses its grave concern at the looming humanitarian disasters throughout the world and calls on the EU and other donors to respond promptly and substantially to the Africa Hunger Alert campaign launched by the WFP and step up food aid and humanitarian aid to the regions at risk, as well as support longer-term efforts to achieve food security;

2.  Calls on the EU and other donors to urgently address the dire socio-economic impact of the HIV/Aids pandemic, in particular in the southern Africa region, and to speed up the slow disbursement of earmarked monies from the Global Fund for HIV/Aids;

3.  Expresses its continuing grave concern at the magnitude of the food crisis facing Zimbabwe and other countries in southern Africa, and deplores the fact that the Mugabe land redistribution programme has only served to worsen the region’s food crisis, by triggering the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural production and economy;

4.  Calls on the EU and other donors to support efforts to find the resources required to mill genetically modified (GM) food aid, in order to render it acceptable to most countries in need of food aid and prevent any chance of domestic crops being mixed with GM varieties;

5.  Calls on the EU and other donors to help strengthen logistical capacity in the regions at risk – such as road tolls, importation/customs procedures and third party transport arrangements – in order to ensure the smooth and timely delivery of food aid, especially with regard to the simultaneous delivery of seeds for planting;

6.  Believes that the fight against poverty and food insecurity must address the structural causes of poverty in the developing countries; accordingly, calls for measures to foster access to land, water and resources of biodiversity, measures to foster a policy of local support for sustainable agricultural smallholdings and for the cancellation of the debt which swallows more than 40% of the GNP of the LDCs;

7.  Believes that trade barriers, subsidies and other trade-distorting measures, particularly in sectors of special export interest to LDCs such as agriculture, should be assessed with a view to being reduced; warns that the global cost of not eradicating hunger – in terms of conflict, recurrent emergencies, international crime, the drugs trade, economic stagnation, clandestine migration and premature death – is enormous;

8.  Believes that the development of equitable international trade is an efficient instrument in the attempt to bring about a drastic reduction in poverty and calls for comprehensive private sector development strategies;

9.  Welcomes the Council’s decision to give free access to the European Union market for all products, except arms, from the least developed countries, emphasises that the full application of this initiative by the end of 2003 and appropriate accompanying provisions, such as technology transfers and debt cancellation, could improve the situation of the LDCs and, finally, calls for the other developed countries, in particular the United States, to take similar measures;

10.  Calls on all the industrialised countries to be prepared subsequently to make further market access concessions to agricultural products from the developing world;

11.  Calls on the Commission to help the developing countries to meet the European Union’s regulatory criteria, in particular sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety standards;

12.  Calls for tailored aid and assistance in the form of know-how to improve sustainable agriculture in the LDCs;

13.  Calls on the FAO, in cooperation with international research institutes, to promote agricultural research and research into new technologies, which should always be tailored to local conditions with a view to improving agricultural productivity in the developing countries;

14.  Considers that EU trade policy should aim to promote sustainable development and equitable trade rules and to encourage the LDCs’ local production and marketing capabilities so that the needs of their peoples can be met;

15.  Calls on the LDCs to adopt an intra-regional sustainable development strategy which takes into account the real need of the populations, which is to reduce dependency on industrialised countries and build domestic and regional markets;

16.  Calls on the Commission to contribute towards the regional economic integration of the least developed countries, in particular via the EDF;

17.  Considers that LDCs should in some cases be allowed to protect their economy and proceed to selective market opening, in order to develop their own industries and to ensure their food independence and the survival and development of their small farming;

18.  Reiterates that the decisions taken in Monterrey should lead to renewed efforts on the part of all the nations which attended the World Food Summit in Rome;

19.  Draws attention to the joint ministerial declaration adopted in Doha, which called for the commencement of a ‘development round’, aimed at developing a ‘fair and market-oriented trade system’, in particular in the agricultural sector;

20.  Considers that the failure of the members of the WTO to reach an agreement in 2002, as required by the Doha Declaration on TRIPs and Public Health, on the issue of compulsory access to vital medicines sends a very discouraging signal to developing and least-developed countries about the priorities of trade negotiators; more significantly, it continues to provide an obstacle to the provision of urgently needed public health care in those countries;

21.  Underscores the importance of parliamentary monitoring of the WTO process;

22.  Calls on the Commission to help the LDCs to increase their technological, production, administrative and logistical capacity so that they can take full advantage of their free access to EU markets and develop their technological capability so as to be able to export finished products as well;

23.  Calls on the Commission to help the LDCs to implement strategies to diversify their production and their exports;

24.  Emphasises that the opening up of markets may lead to an increase in the transhipment of goods and, hence, fraud involving rules of origin; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to activate technical assistance mechanisms to prevent fraud;

25.  Calls on the Commission, along with the EU and ACP Ministers, to make food security and access to resources the main focus of negotiations on future ACP-EU trade systems;

26.  Calls on the Commission to step up its programmes to assist in the training of negotiators for the developing countries and to help them to implement what they have obtained in negotiations;

27.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and the UN.

(1) OJ L 357, 30.12.1998, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 60, 1.3.2001, p. 43.


January 2022