Voices from the field 1
IPEF: Secretive negotiations over the future of the Indo-Pacific economy
As international trade deals continue to evolve, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is being negotiated between multiple nations in the Asia-Pacific region. With the United States taking the lead, its members include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Despite its claims of trans-regional economic cooperation, critics argue that the IPEF is designed to advance U.S. corporate interests and provide an avenue for them to influence national regulation in critical sectors such as agriculture, labour, environment, manufacturing, services and digital technology. A significant point of contention surrounding the IPEF (as in other trade-investment agreements) is its secretive negotiations, shutting out public and democratic scrutiny, checks and balances.
Joseph Purugganan from Focus on the Global South summarized civil society concerns, stating: “The consensus was evident: IPEF, despite being touted as a new model for trade, appears to be heavily tilted towards mega-corporations and tech giants. The lack of transparency in its negotiations and the haste to finalize it, compounded by the geopolitical tussle between the U.S. and China in the Asia-Pacific, raises red flags. Governments are urged to carefully reflect, to place their citizen’s welfare above corporate windfalls, and to ensure that the IPEF, in essence, aligns with the aspirations and rights of those it stands to affect.“
Voices from the field 2
Exclusion and discrimination at the FAO World Food Forum
Melissa Gómez Gil, MAELA, Colombia
The FAO World Food Forum demonstrated the exclusion and discrimination of historically marginalised populations and communities, such as young people, women and rural communities. There, spaces for dialogue and the exchange of experiences were created, but they lacked the tools and mechanisms needed for interpreting. The accommodation and catering facilities were inadequate for those (like us) who had travelled from our territories, perhaps for the first time, to a country with a currency that is three times the value of our own national currency.
We felt that our right to food was being undermined by offering us their crumbs because they think that we are used to a violent system of social inequality; and this clearly replicates both the state of inequality in which we live in our own territories as well as the xenophobia that we experience in “first world” countries. Perhaps the experience for some was exciting for the simple fact of being in Rome or being at the FAO headquarters, but the truth is that for the young people of our social movement it was a traumatic experience without any safeguards or dignified conditions in which we were allowed to participate fully.
Voices from the field 3
Digital tsunami: A technology that is not discussed with the peoples creates exclusion and dependency
The following testimonies were obtained during the two year discussion, among diverse peasant, Indigenous, local community and family farmers organizations, on the digitalization of food systems, prompted by the “Data Work Stream” inaugurated by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2021.
Digitalization in agriculture and food is perceived as a driver of profit, more than a series of tools and processes that can ease work in the fields and benefit the majority of non- industrial agriculturalists. There is awareness that this technology has not been developed by the peoples for the peoples, but comes from the corporate world and intends to create dependency and exclusion, just like other agricultural innovations throughout history. —Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSIPM) Vision statement on Data
“A farmer is now forced to produce food in a different way, which is not conventional or traditional, but dependent on technology.” Moayyad Bsharad, LVC-MENA Region, land worker.
The selection of certain data, and ignoring other data, is sometimes used to justify a political or profit-oriented goal. An example of a political goal comes to us from the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza. —CSIPM Vision statement on Data
“Using Data collection on the food systems in Gaza and [the] analyzing [of] it by the occupier which holds power, the Israeli occupation was able to calculate an average of calories per person by which people do not starve but never feel well fed. Through this weaponization of food based on very accurately calculated Data, the Israeli occupation aimed at putting direct pressure on the population in Gaza through a form of collective punishment to drive them to abandon certain political choices they have made”. Mariam Mohammad, Coalition of Lebanese Civil Society / Arab Network for Food Sovereignty