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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kym Anderson, 2010. "Can the WTO reduce agricultural trade distortions?," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 109-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:19:y:2010:i:1:p:109-134 DOI: 10.1080/09638190903327518

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tyers,Rod & Anderson,Kym, 2011. "Disarray in World Food Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521172318, March.
    2. SĂ©bastien Jean & David Laborde & Will Martin, 2008. "Choosing Sensitive Agricultural Products in Trade Negotiations," Working Papers 2008-18, CEPII research center.
    3. Gardner, Grant W & Kimbrough, Kent P, 1989. "The Behavior of U.S. Tariff Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 211-218, March.
    4. Francois, Joseph F. & Martin, Will, 2004. "Commercial policy variability, bindings, and market access," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 665-679, June.
    5. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, 2005. "Special Agricultural Safeguards; Virtual Benefits and Real Costs—Lessons for the Doha Round," IMF Working Papers 05/131, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Mattoo, Aaditya, 2005. "Services in a development round : three goals and three proposals," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3718, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aliyev, Khatai, 2014. "Expected Macroeconomic Impacts of the Accession to WTO on Azerbaijan Economy: Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 55096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Jonathan Brooks & Alan Matthews, 2015. "Trade Dimensions of Food Security," OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers 77, OECD Publishing.
    3. Whalley, John, 2013. "Regional Agreements: A Stocktaking Based on WTO Notifications," Commissioned Papers 156228, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.


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