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August 6, 2006

Statement from the Mexican Forum on Evaluation and Proposals for the Renegotiation of the Agricultural Chapter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)**

 

Legislative Palace, Mexico City, August 4, 2006


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has not benefited the large majority of Mexican agricultural producers and campesinos*, foresters and fishers, and has instead seriously damaged our productive capacity and our domestic economy.

The 2003 National Agreement for the Countryside signed by rural organizations and the President of the Republic calls for a complete review of NAFTA and the US Farm Bill: their impacts; the import-related support policies for the farm sector; the defense mechanisms against unfair competition; quality control and rendering imported goods harmless; international commercial negotiations and cooperation. This has not been done.

Given the lack of transparency and insensitivity shown by the Federal Government, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, via its Special Commission for the Countryside, its Commission on Agriculture and Beef Production and its Centre for the Study of Sustainable Rural Development and Food Sovereignty Committee, sponsored this Forum.

The Deputies and Chamber staff along with representatives of campesino organizations and of other social sector including private producers, rural enterprises, the National Confederation of State Governors, MSDA, academic and research organizations, state institutions, federal and local legislators, all participated in this event understanding that the discussions would focus on national agricultural policy, its relation to international trade policy, and the resultant impact of both on food security and sovereignty.

The participants at this Forum unanimously agreed to denounce the toll that NAFTA has taken on campesino livelihoods and on the small producers of basic and strategic grains in Mexico, and have the following to say about NAFTA and its impact:

A. Inequalities are been heightened – legal, economic, technological, productive, social and environmental – in areas of public policy, budgeting and subsidies.

B. Food and nutritional security and sovereignty are being further threatened by increased import-dependency and by the erosion of the right of access as imports of processed foods and staples, subsidized in their country of origin, grow.

C. Producers are being cut out of the marketplace and displaced from their lands as new economic actors move in, a trend compounded by the loss of a local base of knowledge with respect to sustainable production processes and plot management.

D. Migration, rural depopulation and human rights abuses are a result of NAFTA
E. Farm support budgets and market access decisions are leading to the concentration of national and transnational rural capital.

F. Agricultural markets are being distorted as the disappearance of tariffs under NAFTA allows for predatory trade practices.

G. Biodiversity is being adversely affected as the transnational corporations misuse the genetic engineering knowledge that they possess.

H. The traditional knowledge base is being usurped by private sector patenting under intellectual property provisions.

 

GIVEN THE AFORE MENTIONED, THIS FORUM RESOLVES THAT:


1. The executive branch of the federal government of Mexico immediately take the actions necessary to renegotiate the Agricultural Chapter of NAFTA
2. The total removal of tariffs envisioned under NAFTA and scheduled for 2008 be suspended, particularly as it applies to corn, beans and powdered milk
3. Agricultural policy be established in accordance with what was agreed to in the National Accord for the Countryside to reflect the interests of the majority of Mexican campesinos and small producers, a vision backed up by appropriate budget allocations subject to increases as needs dictate
4. Such an agricultural policy should respond to re-establishing national food security and sovereignty as strategically important in strengthening national production of the basic staples
5. The national legal framework has been severely eroded by NAFTA and this situation should be reviewed with compensation given since no decree can override what the political constitution of Mexico has established. From now on international treaties have to receive explicit approval from the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Senators
6. The Special Commission for the Countryside should continue to be an ordinary part of the Chamber of Deputies
7. A National Front for the Defense of the Countryside and Food Security and Sovereignty be established to fight for the re-negotiation of NAFTA’s Chapter on Agriculture, and to provide follow-up to the development of agricultural policy as well as to ensure continuity around the National Accord for the Countryside
8. A call go out to all rural actors to join with and participate in the different actions that the National Front will carry out at the municipal, state and federal levels in line with the Action Program approved by this Forum
9. That 2007 be declared the year of the Mexican countryside - a time to assert the important role it plays in establishing food security and sovereignty, and in ensuring social stability.

*Campesino here refers to both subsistence farmers and landless farm workers

**Translation provided by Rick Arnold, Common Frontiers-Canada on August 06, 2006

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