Armoiries de la Suisse

Les autorités fédérales de la Confédération suisse

Page d'accueil

Conférence internationale sur la multifonctionnalité

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE / Berne, le 3.7.2000

Conférence internationale sur la multifonctionnalité

La sauvegarde d'une agriculture multifonctionnelle reste pour de
nombreux pays un objectif important. Telle est la conclusion d'une
conférence internationale qui s'est réunie du 1er au 3 juillet 2000 en
Norvège à l'invitation de la Suisse, de la Norvège, du Japon, de la
Corée et de la Commission de la Communauté européenne.

Les représentants d'une quarantaine de pays en développement et
industrialisés sont convenus que chaque pays a le droit souverain de
poursuivre sa propre politique agricole dans le contexte de ses
engagements internationaux, y compris dans ses objectifs
non-économiques, tels que la contribution au développement rural, la
sécurité alimentaire et la protection de l'environnement. Ces
objectifs multifonctionnels ne peuvent cependant être atteints avec
les seules forces du marché. Le résultat de cette conférence, la
reconnaissance du rôle spécifique d'une agriculture multifonctionnelle
- rôle également ancré dans la Constitution fédérale - est
particulièrement important en vue de la négociation agricole qui vient
de débuter à l'OMC.

Berne, le 3 juillet 2000

Service de la communication

Communiqué de presse "International Conference on Non-Trade Concerns"

WTO and Agriculture:
Every country has a sovereign right to pursue non-trade objectives
such as strengthening the socio-economic viability and development of
rural areas, food security and environmental protection. These
objectives cannot be achieved by market forces alone. This was
recognised at a Conference on Non-Trade Concerns in Agriculture
attended by 40 countries and economies, which was held in Ullensvang,
Norway, from July 1-4, 2000.
In the WTO negotiations on trade in agriculture there is therefore the
need to acknowledge and secure the continued existence of various
types of agriculture based on each country's specific production
conditions and potential and historical and cultural background.
The broad objective of the conference was to provide a forum for
discussion among developing and developed countries on non-trade
concerns (NTCs). Subjects treated covered the specific and
multifunctional characteristics of agriculture, agriculture's
contribution to rural development, food security, environment and
cultural diversity, and the need for flexibility in national policy
design to address non-trade concerns, both from a developed and
developing country perspective.
The European Commission and the governments of Japan, Mauritius,
Norway, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland hosted the conference,
which was attended by another 34 developing and developed countries
and economies in transition, including least-developed countries and
small island developing states. The discussions initiated at this
conference will be pursued in further meetings during the WTO
negotiations on agriculture.
 Chairmen's Summaries of the Discussion
Conference participants examined 6 discussion papers. All six papers,
the programme and a list of participating countries are available at
The first paper, presented by Switzerland, covered the specific
characteristics of agriculture and the need to treat agriculture
separately within WTO. According to Mr. Sverre Kvakkestad, Chairperson
of this Session, participants recognised the specific characteristics
of agriculture. It was recognised that the special situation of
agriculture is related to the fact that food is a unique and most
essential commodity in every society. In addition to food security,
agriculture plays a key role in ensuring the viability of rural areas,
biological and cultural diversity and other important policy
objectives. Each country has a right to preserve an agricultural
sector necessary to meet these objectives. It was acknowledged that
these specific and multifunctional characteristics of agriculture must
be taken into account in further trade reform within WTO.
The second paper, presented by the European Commission, examined
agriculture's contribution to rural development. Mr. Masanori Hayashi,
Chairperson of this Session, found the discussion very stimulating.
Participants stressed that farming is an essential part of rural
society from not only an economic but also social and other diverse
viewpoints in many countries and in many regions in developed and
developing countries as well as in countries in transition. Countries
should have the right to pursue rural development policies in which
agriculture plays a key role. The need for necessary flexibility was
stressed given the diverse nature of agriculture.
The third paper, presented by Japan and the Republic of Korea, covered
food security and the role of domestic agricultural production. In the
view of Mr. Luzius Wasescha, Chairperson of this Session, the debate
on food security illustrated the diversities of agricultural
situations and policies in least developed countries, developing
countries, small island developing states,  economies in transition
and developed countries. Food security has to ensure at least the
supply of essential commodities and can be best obtained by a
combination of domestic production, imports and stockholding. In this
context the impact of new production methods and possibilities for
transfer of technology should be examined also in a WTO context. Given
the challenge of demographic evolution in many countries, a dynamic
approach to the issue of  food security is required.
The fourth paper, introduced by the European Commission, covered
agriculture's contribution to environmentally and culturally related
non-trade concerns. According to Mr. Yong Kyu Choi, Chairperson of
this Session, participants stressed that today's agricultural systems
can promote environmental value by maintaining valued landscapes,
conserving biodiversity, protecting people from the effects of certain
natural disasters and protecting historical features. The provision of
these environmental services is unlikely to be assured by market
forces alone. Therefore, WTO rules should give flexibility to
governments to implement appropriate policies. These policies should
be targeted, have clear objectives, be administered in a transparent
manner, and they should also be, at most, no more than minimally
The fifth paper, presented by Mauritius, examined developing countries
and non-trade concerns. According to Mr. David F. Roberts, Chairperson
of this Session, the key points arising in the paper and the
discussion were that policies in agriculture and in particular trade
liberalisation have to be viewed in the context of all the
multilateral commitments entered into by sovereign nations. Non-trade
concerns are vital for developing countries and least developed
countries. Annex II (the Green Box) is affordable to the developed
world but not to all developing countries who may therefore have to
have access to other appropriate measures.
The sixth paper, introduced by Norway, covered the need for
flexibility in national policy design to address non-trade concerns.
Mr. Dhurmahdass Baichoo, Chairperson of this Session, emphasised in
his summary that in the WTO agricultural policy reform process based
on Article 20, all Members, both developing and developed, must be
given sufficient flexibility and room for manoeuvre in national
agricultural policy design to ensure a viable domestic agricultural
sector with domestic production required to properly address NTCs. In
doing so, the specific situation of each country, including national
priorities and production conditions, must be duly taken into account.
With respect to policy measures, it was stressed that, in many cases,
Green Box measures alone will not be sufficient to address NTCs. For
instance, border measures are often needed. Moreover, in case of
developing countries, market access, including preferences, is
important. Furthermore, technical and financial assistance to overcome
supply side constraints is required.

The Chairpersons can be reached at the following phone numbers:
- Session 1: Mr. Sverre Kvakkestad, Deputy Director, Ministry of
Agriculture, Norway, phone  ++ 47 22 24 92 04
- Session 2: Mr. Masanori Hayashi, Director General, International
Affairs Dep., Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, Japan,
phone ++ 81 3 35 91 67 59
- Session 3: Mr. Luzius Wasescha, Ambassador, State Secretariat for
Economic Affairs, Switzerland, phone ++ 41 31 322 23 33
- Session 4: Mr. Yong Kyu Choi, Director General, Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry, Republic of Korea, phone ++ 82 25 03 72 90
- Session 5: Mr. Mr. David F. Roberts, Deputy Director General, DG
Agriculture of the European Commission, phone ++ 32 2 295 33 05
- Session 6: Mr. Dhurmahdass Baichoo, Ambassador of Mauritius to UN
and WTO, Geneva, phone ++ 41 22 734 85 50

Luzius Wasescha, Ambassadeur, seco, Tel. 031/322‘23'33
Christian Häberli, OFAG, Tel. 031/322‘25‘13