Since the breakdown of the trade-negotiations at the fifth WTO-Ministerial in Cancún 2003, the negotiations for the shape of the world trade regime have gained wide public attention. In no other trading sector do different interests appear so irreconcilable as in agriculture - with conflicting interests between southern and northern countries, countries with liberalized markets or markets with highly protected agricultural production or between food-exporting nations and those which are dependent on food-imports.
The EcoFair Trade Dialogue aims to push the debate about WTO and the agricultural trade system further. It aims at establishing a common platform on agricultural trade, based on the principles of sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty, and wants to achieve a coherent reform proposal which responds to the 21st century's social and ecological challenges to global agriculture. The EcoFair Trade Dialogue will deal with measures fitting into the current structure of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture, such as tariffs and subsidies, but also look beyond the current trade-regime. Potential approaches for trade regulation include supply management, qualified market access, the governance of imports, or commodity agreements.
The project consists of three phases, in which different dialogue fora will play a prominent role. The "Expert Panel" group will meet frequently between 2005 and 2006. 11 experts from all continents will formulate research questions, develop reform proposals and write policy papers. In addition, an "international consultative board" to the Expert Panel will be set up to ensure constant input from decision makers and stakeholders of different backgrounds.
From 2006 on, series of regional consultations worldwide will provide various stakeholders with the chance to discuss and extend the policy papers and reform proposals developed by the Expert Panel from their respective regional and local perspectives. The third dialogue forum is meant to address policy-makers specifically.