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Can the WTO reduce agricultural trade distortions?

  • Kym Anderson

Earnings from farming in many developing countries have been depressed by anti-agricultural biases in own-country price and trade policies, as well as by governments of richer countries favoring local farmers with import barriers and subsidies. Both sets of policies reduce national and global economic welfare, add to global inequality and poverty, and are mostly the result of trade restrictions. Yet until recently they have not been disciplined by the GATT or WTO. New evidence illustrates where the GATT and WTO have failed to prevent rises in agricultural protectionism, including in developing countries. Global economy wide modeling results reveal that substantial trade policy reform has been achieved since the mid-1980s in ways that have helped developing country farmers, but that there remains very considerable scope for further farm policy reform. In the decades ahead, the effects of policies on farmers and others in developing countries depend on whether an ambitious Doha Round agreement is signed and countries continue the recent trends towards free trade. Should Doha fail, agricultural protectionism may well grow in emerging economies, suggesting that the stakes in the Doha Round are much higher than is traditionally believed.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development.

Volume (Year): 19 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 109-134

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