|Expert: Karin Ulmer|
Policy Officer, Trade and Gender, APRODEV
1. GATI: Could you give us a brief background of your organization and the role in the light of the European Union Institutions?
Aprodev is the Brussels-based association of 17 European Development NGOs related to the World Council of Churches. Aprodev seeks to underline the dignity of all human beings, irrespective of race, sex, creed, national, ethnic or political affiliation. Aprodev is part of the ecumenical movement which has its roots in many different local situations, all struggling with common but differentiated agendas.
Aprodev mandate is to monitor and influence decision-making at European Union level. Aprodev is working towards a
2. GATI: Your organization draws reference from various working groups – Could you share some light on the work on Trade, Food security and Gender? How do you see the linkage? In what way does it ensure gender equality and equity in its related activities?
The concern within our organizations is on the persistence of poverty and growing inequality. The alarming concentration of wealth is frequently linked to the concentration of property, to exclusive access to productive resources, such as land and water or exploitative working conditions. Policies often reflect the interests of specific sectors holding power and neglect the needs of excluded social and economic groups.
Formal and informal political decision-making structures often work against poor and marginalised women and men, particularly in rural areas and in poor quarters of urban conglomerates.
But national governance issues are not the only determinants of poverty and exclusion. International policies can exacerbate existing local forms of social exclusion and foster poverty. Trade policies are likely to have a direct impact on the income poor producers or consumers derive from their work. Policies of multilateral institutions can limit states’ capacities to act in favour of poorer segments of their societies. Losses by developing countries through trade protection or through too quick and extensive market opening, immigration barriers and increasing debt burdens amount to many times the aid developing countries receive.
Social exclusion is a pressing downside to many of the economic policies pursued by the EU and multilateral institutions. (Aprodev, 2008)
The current food crisis shows how unfair trade conditions and unsound development strategies have put food security concerns second or last priority, leaving it to unregulated market forces. But priority should be given to agricultural development strategies that invest smallholders to improve food production and marketing at local and regional markets. Transformation will come if smallholders and women farmers are put at the centre and if they can increase their decision and purchasing power. According to the IAASTD findings, each 10% increase in small-scale agricultural productivity would move appr. 7 million people above the dollar-a-day poverty line. (IAASTD, 2009)
The campaign to stop dumping of frozen chicken parts on vulnerable developing countries markets challenges the EU trade and agricultural policies – and investigates new forms of dumping of unfair and throat cutting competition that is ruining African farmers. This campaign that originated in Cameroon illustrates how the EU`s export oriented agricultural growth strategies – the favored model in internal and external policies- puts any sound rural and sustainable agricultural development at risk and suffocates the aspiration of millions of farmers for a live in dignity. It leaves them with but one option: to get modern (submit to existing market forces) or to get out of the market.
But livestock farming such as poultry hold enormous potential for future sustainable food production and poverty reduction. In
3. GATI: What are your observations on the EPA’s with special reference to EU-ACP Agreement? How do you assess the role of EPA’s as instruments for development?
Opening national agricultural markets to international competition can offer economic benefits, but can lead to long term negative effects on poverty alleviation, food security and the environment without basic national institutions and infrastructure being in place (IAASTD, 2009). While consumer prices may decrease as a result of increased competition, consumer gains may not adequately compensate for loss of income. While women depend most on the use of natural resources for their livelihoods, men have all decision-making power over access to and control over natural resources that are further depleted as a result of ever increasing impact of climate change. In trade negotiations, macro-economic modelling prevails over micro foundations of the economy and often results in ‘trading-away’ of women’s basic needs and strategic gender interests.
But the EU maintains it mantra of trade liberalisation producing development and sticks to its linear logical reasoning of: “Investment, public procurement, trade facilitation and competition policy are essential parts of successful economic governance. They are inherently good for development because they provide the stable and predictable framework and climate for investment to grow.” (Mandelson, 2005)
Integration into world economy and trade integration always means that export orientated production will benefit and import competing sectors will loose. While women do find jobs in export orientated industries the working conditions and frameworks on decent work and social safety nets will depend on the development state capacity to put adequate social, health and eduction or training policies in place.
However, many ACP or developing countries are not in a position to benefit from globalisation. Its prerequisite would be an active development state that is not limiting itself to market opening but is capable of putting coherent frameworks in place that steer the economic and social development – supporting those sectors, companies and value chains that are competitive and offer opportunities to take advantage of free trade.
To date, EPAs have ignored to ensure the pre-conditions a country needs to benefit from free trade are in place. For this to be the case, governments would need to have insights into the complex layers, hierarchies and competing interest of women and men in society. Gender interventions would respond to gender bias in markets, and design gender sensitive interventions at macro level looking at expanding or decreasing economic sectors, at meso level with public policies and expenditure, and at micro level to improve and prevent deterioration of income. The quantity of jobs has to be weight with quality and sustaining of jobs. And the effect at household level of gender roles, work load or control over income need to be matched with affirmative policy measures in the field of infrastructure, training, labour rights and reproductive gender roles.
4. GATI: One of your important writings talks of linkage between trade and governance. What are its crucial aspects in the current development paradigm?
The current development framework is dominated by a dogma that claims to be able to put in place the right economic policies or “best trade policy technology” and to achieving ”good” governance. However, the bias is obvious as good investment climate and open trade themselves are used as indicators of good governance – but such a link has not been examined.
To date, trade negotiations are still without any single civic regulation or procedure to ensure its coherence with commitments to sustainable development. So, the how and the process of policy making becomes key to transformation. In order to have trade deals that make governments more accountable to citizens, we need to look at the process of negotiations and policies that trade agreements tend to put in place.
This means assessing the commitments objectively against their impacts on governance and accountability towards citizens or foreign investors. It means improving the process of negotiations including groups that are otherwise excluded from trade talks to pursue broader citizen’s interests. And it means introducing more flexibility to enable governments to better respond to citizens’ rights, women’s empowerment and respond to unanticipated outcomes or crisis.
5. Could you elaborate on the gender instruments and strategies for EPAs/FTA negotiations? Has your organisation been able to influence the process and to what extent?
By now, there is recognition that gender analysis and impact assessments is a way to look at differentiated impact and gain insight at economic wide distribution effects.
(1) Gender Impact Assessment. By now, the European Commission’s Sustainability Impact Assessment includes gender indicators which is a first stepping stone for trade policy making to take account of gender differentiated impact
(2) Gender policies and distributional effects. The accommodation of distributional impacts and sequencing of flanking measures are not a side event but are key to ensure any broader societal benefits from gains in open market. The micro level impact and its gender disparities must be the basis to design policies at meso level and have an understanding of what macro level impact means for different people. By now, trade negotiators take account of distributional effects reasoning that EPA/FTA have failed if they won't produce increased welfare for people. However, this belated recognition fails to include remedies that allow to right wrong policies.
(3) Development benchmarks: Benchmarking development is a participatory tool to design the interaction and sequencing of trade specific policy measures with regard to the overarching country development strategy and ensure societal broad benefits. It is a tool to define trade and development within a local specific contacts, to insert evidence based and transparent policy making, and to introduce accountability and results-based approach to assess trade policy outcome.
The idea is to agree on a set of development criteria and indicators to assess conduct and content of trade talks. This way, benchmarking becomes a tool to ensure that trade reforms have positive impact: i) to avoid inappropriate response to critical issues, ii) to avoid diversion of attention from measure that are more important and effective, iii) to minimize the risk of wrong trade related policies put in place and their unsuccessful implementation, and iv) to invite and create space for articulation of small and poorer groups to meet broader societal interest - as otherwise, the weakest groups are most likely negatively affected.
(4) Gender-responsive budgeting : is an existing tool to ring-fence government revenues and prevent reverse distribution of negative impacts (taxation). This could support benchmarking efforts when looking at inputs of money appropriated and spent, at activities of planned and delivered services, at outputs of utilisation of planned and delivered services, and at impacts of planned and actual achievement of broader objectives. Gender audits could complement this exercise.
(5) Gender monitoring should include suitable indicators that serve three key purposes of monitoring: i) implementation of commitments, ii) impacts of implementation of free trade agreements on sustainable development, poverty reduction and gender equality and iii) trigger implementation of FTA/EPA commitments by developing countries or to qualify them for exemptions. This would complement macro-economic trends with monitoring of the micro impact at household or firm level and labour conditions, would monitor the sequencing and implementation of gender policies putting in place safety nets or retraining programmes, and would monitor distributional and non-economic impacts at grassroots level. (Aprodev, 2009).
(6) EPA Ombudswomen could be a first or symbolic step to more innovative institutional arrangements that promote transparency and open up otherwise closed or elitist policy systems. An Ombudswomen could receive and investigate complaints of gender discrimination or disproportionate gender impact in a given sector that could be presented not only by government officials, but as well from affected citizens of different social and economic groups or from private sector or civil society organisations.
6. Finally, could you explain the Gender Development Benchmarks in the realm of WTO?
In the context of the WTO, the Agreement on Agriculture (Article 6.2), for example, could be modified to read : “Government measures of assistance, whether direct or indirect, to encourage agricultural and rural development are an integral part of development programmes, investment subsidies which are generally available to low- income, resource poor producers and gender-sensitive sectors, shall be exempt from domestic support reduction commitments and tariff reduction commitments.”
In addition to WTO criteria for special products of poverty alleviation, employment and food security, a fourth criteria or cross-cutting indicator on disproportionate gender impact could be added. Gender criteria could be defined as follows: - if a sector is particularly critical to the livelihood of poor women and liberalisation would jeopardise this function, then the sector is eligible for nomination as sensitive until the affected women can compete or find other comparable income opportunities, - alternatively, if a sector is liberalised and found to have a disproportionate impact on poor women, then liberalisation schedules can be halted or reversed. A process could be designed whereby: a. Each ACP country lists the gender sensitive product/sector on the basis of objective/agreed criteria (women’s employment, share of credits, decision-making, autonomy in entrepreneurial activities) b. Possibly, limit number of gender sensitive products per country, c. Gender sensitive products should be declared special products. d. Safeguard measures can be evoked for gender sensitive products (Ulmer (2007).
Equity benchmarks should allow and promote positive measures under aid for trade, development support, investment, and/or mitigating and accompanying stipulations that are designed in a way that explicitly address gender specific measures. These include for example, safety nets, provisions that promote women entrepreneurs, regulations that encourage supply capacity building, and control over productive resources
Aprodev & ICTSD (2005) Framework for trade supported development strategy
Aprodev (2008) Trade and Governance.
Aprodev (2008) Rights-based development from a faith-based perspective.
Aprodev (2009) EPA Indicators.
Buntzel & Mari (2008) The Global Chicken, in there: Ulmer: Gender aspects of poultry farming
IAASTD (2009) Global Summary for Decision Makers, recommendation 17, page 7
Mandelson (2005) Address by Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, to ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly,
Mandelson (2006) EPAs: remarks to ACP ministers. Speech by P. Mandelson at the ACP-EU Joint Ministerial Trade Committee on 28/06/2006.
Ulmer (2007) Equity in trade negotiations: a gender review of EPAs, in Trade Negotiation Insights TNI, Volume 6 No 2.