Agricultural Protection in Rich Countries: How Did We Get Here
After a half century of multilateral bargaining to reduce trade barriers, agriculture stands out for the degree of protection and government support that it still enjoys in most rich countries. This makes agricultural protection a natural focus of the current Doha Round of trade negotiations: in addition to offering the juiciest targets for liberalization, this round is supposed to address the needs of developing countries, where the vast majority of the world’s farmers, most of them poor, reside. But is there any reason to think trade negotiations are more likely now than in the past to encourage substantial reform of rich countries’ farm policies? This paper looks at the evolution of and current approaches to agricultural policies in rich countries to see if there are lessons from the past that might improve chances for reform this time around.
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