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The Art of Exceptions: Sensitive Products in the Doha Negotiations

  • Christophe Gouel
  • Cristina Mitaritonna
  • Maria Priscila Ramos

It is necessary for multilateral trade negotiations to include exceptions to accommodate politically sensitive sectors. However, given the highly concentrated distribution of agricultural protection, too many exceptions put at risk the objectives of World Trade Organization. This paper assesses the delicate balance required, based on the case of agricultural trade protection in Europe and Japan, two countries where tariff dismantling in the agricultural sector is a particularly sensitive issue. Since agricultural border protection is heterogeneous, we avoid aggregation bias by extending a multi-country computable general equilibrium model to the product level. This allows us to combine the assets from general equilibrium and partial equilibrium modeling, and to take explicit account of interdependencies and trade policies. The results suggest that consideration of sensitive products strongly limits the potential gains from a possible agriculture agreement at Doha. Moreover, there is no aggregate trade-off between decreasing tariffs and increasing/opening quotas. To achieve “substantial” market access improvements in the agricultural sector, the objective should be most favored nation tariff reduction.

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Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2010-20.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2010-20
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