Thu, 18 Sep 2003

Farmers' battle at Cancun

In the touristic resort of Cancun in Southern Mexico, farmers from various parts of the world gathered at the momentous WTO Ministerial Meeting from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14, 2003. The liberalization of the agricultural sector that became the hottest subject of discussion in the prestigious forum was considered as only giving benefit to developed countries and disadvantaging the developing countries.

Some proposals conveyed by the developed countries were rejected by developing countries, such as the elimination of domestic subsidies, the elimination of export subsidies and the opening of market access through tariff reduction. Controversies between developed countries and developing countries often occurred during serious debates.

The existing conflict phenomenon between the developed and developing countries concerning agriculture liberalization can be seen by the concept of Diplomacy and Domestic Politics (The Logic of Two Level Games) by Robert D. Putnam. The win set model offered by this theory could be one of the means to solve the grave differences between the developed countries and developing countries.

Surely, deadlocks often occur during discussions. To come to a solution, it is hoped that each group, the group of the developed countries and the group of developing countries, can attain a compromising solution that might be beneficial for both parties and not sacrifice each group's stance. What was offered by the developed countries could be adjusted with what was wanted by the developing countries. And the developing countries' refusal could be smoothened by holding a compromising discussion.

Nevertheless, the involvement of farmers from around the world in this global forum seems very interesting. Moreover, detailed issues on agriculture discussed in such a reputed international forum were formerly discussed in a smaller sphere at the highest domestic level. In this WTO forum, those issues became political and demanded the governments take more serious and prudent actions in tackling agricultural problems.

Jakarta Lynda Soetito Cikoko Barat Dalam II/20 Jakarta