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EU-US trade agreement may undermine global food security

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By Nathan Gray+

Last updated on 01-Aug-2014 at 15:37 GMT

A free trade agreement between the EU and USA could undermine food security efforts, says German NGO Brot für die Welt.
A free trade agreement between the EU and USA could undermine food security efforts, says German NGO Brot für die Welt.

The TTIP free trade agreement between Europe and the USA could undermine local support for smallholders in developing countries and exacerbate the global food crisis, warns a German NGO.

According to German aid organisation Brot für die Welt, the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US threatens the concept of sustainable food security – warning that the key to fighting world hunger is strengthening smallholders in developing and newly industrialised countries.

"With the planned TTIP agreement, the EU and US are not only defining rules on trade between each other, but indirectly also respective trade with third states," said Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, President of Brot für die Welt.

As global trade powerhouses, a deal between the EU and USA “could intensify pressure on states outside the agreement to give up protection and support for their own markets," she warned.

Regional support

Füllkrug-Weitzel noted that Brazil’s national local procurement programme, which supplies preschools and schools with regional food products for their meals, is an example of third party programmes that could be threatened.

She warned that if TTIP comes into force, it may be possible for international food corporations to sue such a cafeteria programme due to ‘illegal, trade distorting measures’ that contradict the interests of free trade. The result of which could be that local farmers lose purchases guaranteed through such programmes and, in the worst case, even be left with no land in the end.

As of now, Füllkrug-Weitzel said there is no precedent case. But TTIP is not yet in force, she stated.

"Adding one and one together is enough to predict something like this will occur,” said the organisation president, warning that a core aim of the agreement focuses on penetrating local markets.

"Through the free trade agreement, the EU and the US want to make it possible for large food companies and agribusinesses to penetrate small, local markets that have been protected so far", said the NGO chief- referring to a confidential paper from the US Congress that was leaked to the public recently.

Local farmers disadvantaged

Another, and perhaps more prominent risk is the disadvantage created for agricultural goods from developing countries on the international market, said Brot für die Welt.

TTIP negotiators hope to bring about a decrease in tariffs between the EU and US on agriculture products. If this occurs, imports from newly industrialising and developing countries are likely to lose a portion of their market share to the United States for products like cotton, sugar, fresh produce, and fish, it suggested.

"The increase in prosperity for Western industrialised countries should be reason enough to compensate those expected to lose out in the agreement and to be open to compromise in multilateral negotiations", said Thieß Petersen from the Bertelsmann Foundation.

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