Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference: 72 ministers adopt final communiqué
Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference: Governments reach agreement on communiqué on trade
The 12th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) saw 72 agriculture ministers adopt an ambitious final communiqué.
GFFA 2020: Food for all! Trade for Secure, Diverse and Sustainable Nutrition.
Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said, “International trade combats hunger, conserves resources, and can play an important role in ensuring stability and peace!” She stated that without trade there would be no global food security, as some States were not able to provide for themselves. Klöckner added, “To ensure that we are successful, we must expand trade, and together take action to ensure that consideration is given to the particular concerns of agriculture.” She said that farmers, including smallholders, had to be winners of trade. She stated that this included fairness and transparency. The Minister said, “We must ensure that everyone profits, not just the minority, so that everyone gains access to food.” She went on to say that global trade needed global rules and reliable, value-based standards. With reference to the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, she said, “That is why it is important that we exchange thoughts and ideas on these issues at the GFFA. Nowhere else do so many agriculture ministers come together from so many States of the world; it is a unique platform.”
On 18 January 2020, Federal Minister Klöckner welcomed 72 fellow ministers from across the world and representatives of twelve international organisations to the Agriculture Ministers’ Conference during the ministry’s GFFA. The ministers adopted a joint communiqué which was presented to Aidarbek Saparov, Vice-Minister of Kazakhstan, who will be hosting the next WTO Ministerial Conference, Alan Wolff, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, and Dr Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the FAO. Klöckner: “Today’s resolutions are a strong signal for rule-based free trade!” The minister continued by saying that requirements, for example relating to environmental protection or food safety, should not be undermined. She went on to say that it was imperative to strengthen the World Trade Organisation WTO in order to guarantee joint standards and to continue work on eliminating market-distorting agricultural subsidies.
Final communiqué sets ambitious goals
In its final communiqué, the Agriculture Ministers’ Conference agreed inter alia on the following goals:
- global rules for the global market, strengthening of the WTO, bilateral free trade agreements to help open markets, dismantling of market-distorting support measures;
- strengthening of local, regional and global value chains, and promotion of agricultural trade; equitable distribution of welfare gains across all countries and social strata;
- support of technical and organisational innovations, for example in the field of digitalisation, in order to increase efficiency and to make the agricultural and food sectors attractive for a new generation of farmers as well;
- support of smallholders through micro-credits, and fuller integration of them into markets, including via the support of cooperatives;
- greater rights and easier access to markets for women, in order to effectively combat the poverty of many families;
- continuation of environmental measures, compliance with international climate treaties; and
- introduction of global standards for sustainable agriculture.
The International Digital Council will be established
The Agriculture Ministers’ Conference achieved an important step forwards in the field of digitalisation as well. The ministers discussed this subject last year and asked the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to draw up a concept for establishing an International Digital Council. This was discussed and supported at the 2020 conference. The FAO has therefore been commissioned to implement it. The aim is for the Digital Council to advise countries on issues of digitalisation and to drive the exchange of ideas and experiences. Federal Minister Klöckner said, “The decision to set up an International Digital Council is a milestone. Across the world, digitalisation offers the opportunity to combine stability of yields with resource conservation, to strengthen rural areas and consequently to also tackle causes of displacement. We therefore intend the Council to help reduce the so-called digital divide and to improve access to digital technologies - for smallholders across the globe as well.
The Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference is regarded as the political highlight of the GFFA. 2,000 high-level representatives from politics, industry and civil society gathered at the GFFA over three days. At this international conference, they exchanged their views on key issues regarding the future of the global agri-food industry. The Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Feiler, opened the conference on 16 January.
Under the title “Food for all! Trade for Secure, Diverse and Sustainable Nutrition”, the GFFA technical events focused on the role of trade for global food security and the implementation of the human right to adequate food.
The world’s leading conference
The GFFA is the world's leading international conference on key issues regarding the future of the global agri-food industry. The GFFA focuses on the issue of food security and has taken place annually at the beginning of the International Green Week in Berlin since 2009. The political highlight is the Agriculture Ministers' Conference which is attended by around 70 ministers. The Forum is organised and hosted by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in cooperation with the Berlin Senate, Messe Berlin GmbH and the GFFA Berlin e.V.