Wikileaks: Brazil criticizes China over "land grabs" in Africa

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Viewing cable 10GENEVA152, BRAZIL CRITICIZES CHINA OVER "LAND GRABS" IN AFRICA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10GENEVA152 2010-02-26 16:21 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Mission Geneva
	VZCZCXRO4482
RR RUEHRN
DE RUEHGV #0152 0571623
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 261621Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0428
INFO RUEHFR/USMISSION OECD PARIS 0001
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0001
	UNCLAS GENEVA 000152 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: UNCTAD ECON
SUBJECT: BRAZIL CRITICIZES CHINA OVER "LAND GRABS" IN AFRICA 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 
 
1.            (SBU)  Summary:  At an UNCTAD meeting on investment 
in agriculture on February 3, China became the central focus of 
criticism amid a chorus of concerns about the economic, food 
security, environmental and social impact of large foreign 
purchases of agricultural lands in developing countries.  Of 
particular note, a Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture official 
publicly put China on the side of "land grabbing" in developing 
countries.  A number of countries indicated that they found China's 
defense unconvincing.  According to other member states, discussion 
of FDI in agriculture may surface again at the OECD Investment 
Committee meeting from March 22 to 26 and the UNCTAD Investment 
Commission meeting from April 26-30.  End Summary. 
 
 
 
BRAZIL BLASTS CHINA 
 
 
 
2.            (SBU)  In addressing delegates from approximately 50 
countries, a Ghanaian agricultural trade unionist pointed to an 
"ongoing land grabbing spree in Ghana and some 10 or so African 
countries for biofuel production activities."  In turn, a Chinese 
Ministry of Commerce official asserted that contract farming and 
foreign investments in agricultural lands are based on an equal 
partnership between host governments and foreign investors and that 
large farming operations achieve economies of scale and increase 
agricultural productivity.  The Chinese official's remarks prompted 
Brazil's delegate to chide China for endorsing "land grabbing." 
 
 
 
3.            (SBU)  Privately, the Brazilian Ministry's Advisor on 
Foreign Investment equated China's acquisition of land and 
resources in Africa to "neo-colonialism" and told EconOff, "I do 
not want this in my country."  The French delegate told EconOff 
that China's comments indicated no sympathy for small farmers and 
implied that China saw large communist-style farms at the approach 
for all developing nations. 
 
 
 
RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT IN AGRICULTURE 
 
 
 
4.            (SBU)  In response to a backlash against its own 
investors' overseas land purchases, Japan is promoting an effort by 
multilateral institutions to draft principles for responsible 
investment in agriculture.  While Japan's Ambassador in Geneva held 
the chair for the meeting, the Japanese Economic Counselor confided 
that his country declined to take a more vocal "pro-business" 
stance in the discussion because China's remarks had stirred up so 
much acrimony.  At the conclusion of the meeting on February 5, the 
Japanese Economic Counselor told the forum that the discussion had 
been a useful "intellectual building block" that would further 
multilateral discussion on how to address concerns about large 
investments in agricultural lands. 
 
 
 
5.            (SBU)  Many countries continue to approach this 
discussion with caution.  German and French delegates both told 
EconOff that they have not had significant complaints about the 
activity of their investors and do not yet have a clear sense of 
how multilateral guidelines could affect their interests.  The 
Indonesian delegation notably remained silent throughout the 
meeting.  A Thai delegate said privately that her government is 
reluctant to take a public stance on the issue until it uncovers 
the identities of investors behind large land purchases in 
Thailand. 
 
 
 
6.            (SBU)  Comment:  Some emerging markets and developing 
nations are reacting sharply to foreign investors' land purchases. 
U.S. investors, however, were never the subject of criticism at 
this meeting.  Japan took extra care to manage the discussion and 
instead saw criticism focus on China.  Brazil may see an 
opportunity for its leadership in addressing the concerns of 
African nations.  End Comment. 
KING
Original source: Wikileaks
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