An Overview of the Issues and Positions of the Major Countries in the WTO Negotiations
Negotiations on agriculture were successfully launched in the WTO early in 2000. In the initial phase, negotiating proposals have been submitted by member countries and are being discussed in special sessions of the WTO Committee on Agriculture. A stock-taking exercise will be held in March 2001 to establish the next steps in the process. Many developments will influence the shape and dynamics of the negotiations, particularly the possibility of a comprehensive trade round. The first part of this paper examines the policy setting for the negotiations. The ongoing integration of economies and accompanying agricultural policy reforms provide an environment for further trade liberalization. Expansion of regional trade agreements and EU enlargement negotiations add urgency to the multilateral negotiating process. Newer trade issues and nontrade concerns, often connected to the food business, focus attention on the agricultural talks but may also retard them. A further factor that will add urgency is the anticipated expiry of the Peace Clause in 2003. The paper reviews the main agricultural issues for negotiation and the initial negotiating positions. Substantial progress in improving access is essential for the negotiations to succeed. The issues of export subsidies, other forms of export competition, unfair pricing practices, and dumping are receiving much attention. There are pressures to reduce or eliminate all forms of trade-distorting domestic support. Many non-trade concerns are being introduced, and legitimate trade issues will need to be addressed. The developing countries are determined to extract a better deal for their agriculture. The paper concludes that the elements for progress in further agricultural trade liberalization are coming to the negotiating table but much uncertainty remains both within and outside agriculture.
Volume (Year): 02 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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