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Agriculture and The World Trade Organisation

Gurdarshan Singh Bhalla
Jean-Luc Racine
Frédéric Landy


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1The present volume offers the proceedings of the seminar on “Agriculture and the World Trade Organisation. Indian and French Perspectives”, held in Paris in April 1999 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH), in the framework of the Indo-French Programme of Co-operation in Social Sciences. The event was organised under the aegis of the MSH and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), with the support of the Society, Economics and Decision Department of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, the French National Research Institute on Agronomy (INRA).

2Institutional cooperation works well when the people in charge do their best for supporting, implementing and developing it. The convenors of the seminar and editors of this volume would like to place on record, at the very beginning, their deep appreciation to those who made this dialogue possible: in New Delhi, Professor R. Radhakrishnan, then Member-Secretary of ICSSR, Dr Mrs R Burman Chandra and to Dr K.N. Jehangir, who, in position of responsability have always encouraged the Indo-French cooperation; in Paris, Professor Maurice Aymard, Administrator of MSH and Mrs R. de Montfalcon, the section officer so kindly remembered by all the Indian guests of the Maison. Thanks are due also to Professor Emmanuel Jolivet who readily extended the support of the INRA-SED Department.

3Since the mid-nineties, bilateral seminars organised by the Indo-French Programme of Co-operation in Social Sciences have paid attention to the reforms engineered by the liberalisation process in the two countries, which, despite their differences, share a significant experience of mixed economy deeply regulated by the state. Let us mention here the seminar on Globalisation, organised in Hyderabad in 1997 (Rama Melkote, ed: Meanings of Globalisation: Indian and French Perspectives, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, 2001); the seminar on the Reform of Public Administration, organised at the Institute of Public Administration New Delhi in 2001 in collaboration with the Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, and the seminar on Liberalisation, organised at the Institute of Public Enterprise, Hyderabad, in 2001 as well.

4The present seminar on Agriculture and the WTO was convened by G.S. Bhalla (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), Jean-Luc Racine (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris) and Frédéric Landy (Paris X-University).

5The seminar organisers invited some of the foremost Indian and French experts to sit down around a table for three days of presentations and discussions. On the Indian side were three former chairmen of the Agricultural Prices Commission: G.S. Bhalla, professor emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University and co-organiser of the seminar; S.S. Acharya, now Director of the Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur; and the then Commission chairman Abhijit Sen, also a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Three leading economic research institutes were represented by such figures as Bhupat Desai, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; Ashok Gulati, professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi; and Bibek Debroy, Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, a division of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Rural economists from the University of Ajmer (Rajasthan), M.L. Chippa, and the University of Dharwad (Karnataka), Pushpa Savadatti, also took part.

6On the French side, participants included some of the foremost experts on French and European agriculture and on the implications of the World Trade Organisation, many of whom have been connected in one way or other with focus groups held for or by policy-makers: Jean-Marc Boussard and Jean-Christophe Bureau of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Philippe Chalmin, from the Université Paris-Dauphine, Jean-Pierre Doussin from the Université de Nantes, Jean-Paul Charvet from the Université Paris-Nanterre, Jacques Loyat from the Centre for European Studies in Strasbourg, Hélène Ilbert, affiliated with SOLAGRAL, the principal French NGO in this area, Christophe Blanc from the Evaluation Directorate of the French Agriculture Ministry. Michel Griffon, head of the Research Unit on Agricultural Prospectives and Policy, (CIRAD/Centre for International Co-operation in Agronomical Research for Development), chaired one of the sessions.

7The present volume includes most of the papers discussed during the seminar. In addition, two general updates have been contributed in 2001, offering an Indian perspective and a French analysis of the recent developments, taking particularly into account the failure of the Seattle WTO conference, and the issues debated upon recently in both countries.

8Things seem sometimes to move fast, but in fact they are often developments of longer trends whose fundamentals have been analysed before. The sudden popular surge for food safety in France, which made prime news in 2000-2001, offers a significant example of a development whose basic parameters have been presented during the seminar, months before it became a matter of large public debate. We hope that the contributions gathered here will make useful reading for all those interested in the impact of globalisation on the vital sector of agriculture, and with the ongoing debates about the way the WTO redefines the relationship between countries from the North and from the South.

9G.S.B & J.L.R

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2002

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