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Facts on File

The Integrated Programme for Commodities

[This short article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 19, #21,
May 21, 1976, p. 20. It is sort of a sidebar or appendix to the article
At 4th UNCTAD Session: Speech by Chou Hua-min, Head of Chinese Delegation.]

PRIMARY products (agricultural products, minerals, fuels and foodstuffs) occupy a very important position in the third world countriesí foreign trade. Primary products make up more than three-quarters of the exports of the developing countries. For years, imperialist powers, particularly the superpowers, have monopolized the markets and prices of primary products and ruthlessly exploited and plundered the developing countries which thus suffered serious losses. These developing countries urgently demand changing such an unjust situation. The integrated programme for commodities is a comprehensive solution proposed by the developing countries to check imperialist control, exploitation and plunder. It is also intended as a solution to the question of trade of their primary products. The ultimate aim is to smash the imperialistsí monopoly of markets and prices, improve trade conditions and reduce exploitation suffered by the developing countries.

The chief measures as envisaged in the programme are:

1. Establishment of international stockpiles of various commodities. Stockpiling specified amounts of the commodities which greatly affects the exports of developing countries and intervening in the markets according to previously concluded agreements. That is to buy in the commodities to arrest the fall in prices when they drop to the lowest level indicated in the agreements; and to sell the commodities to stop further rises in prices when they surpass the highest level indicated in the agreements. This method is aimed at stabilizing the prices of these commodities and guaranteeing normal production and supplies.

2. Setting up a common fund for international stockpiles.

The programme furthermore proposes the following measures: the governments of interested countries are to consult and agree on the amounts of the various commodities they intend to import or export over a certain period; provide subsidiary loans to developing countries which find themselves in an unfavourable position as far as exports are concerned; require the developed countries to reduce or remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and restrictive business practices on primary products, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods exported by developing countries in order that the latter may expand the scope of processing primary products and achieve a greater variety of export commodities.

The initiative of establishing this integrated programme for commodities came from the developing countries, and it was first formally written into the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New Economic Order adopted at the Sixth Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly in 1974. In accordance with a provision of the Programme of Action, the UNCTAD Secretariat drew up a draft integrated programme for commodities, on which no agreement has to date been reached after repeated debates because of superpower opposition. The Soviet revisionists pretended to support the draft but were actually against it. They said “stockpiles cannot solve the question of market stability,” that the integrated programme “still has no prospect of reaching agreement,” etc. The United States called for the conclusion of individual commodity agreements and for setting up an “international resources bank,” etc., in opposition to the integrated programme for commodities. The third world countries strongly demanded giving effect to the related provisions of the Sixth Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly. They opposed the obstructions and sabotage by the superpowers and proposed to reach an agreement in principle on the integrated programme at the current Fourth UNCTAD Session.

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