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Distributional Effects of WTO Agricultural Reforms in Rich and Poor Countries

  • Hertel, Thomas
  • Keeney, Roman
  • Ivanic, Maros
  • Winters, Alan

Rich countries’ agricultural trade policies are the battleground on which the future of the WTO’s troubled Doha Round will be determined. Subject to widespread criticism, they nonetheless appear to be almost immune to serious reform, and one of their most common defenses is that they protect poor farmers. Our findings reject this claim. The analysis conducted here uses detailed data on farm incomes to show that major commodity programs are highly regressive in the USA, and that the only serious losses under trade reform are among large, wealthy, farmers in a few heavily protected subsectors. In contrast, analysis using household data from fifteen developing countries indicates that reforming rich countries’ agricultural trade policies would lift large numbers of developing country farm households out of poverty. In the majority of cases these gains are not outweighed by the poverty-increasing effects of higher food prices among other households. Agricultural reforms that appear feasible, even under an ambitious Doha Round, achieve only a fraction of the benefits for developing countries that full liberalization promises, but protects US large farms from most of the rigors of adjustment. Finally, the analysis conducted here indicates that maximal trade-led poverty reductions occur when developing countries participate more fully in agricultural trade liberalization.

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Paper provided by Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University in its series GTAP Working Papers with number 2185.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:gta:workpp:2185
Note: GTAP Working Paper No. 33
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  1. Cranfield, J. A. L. & Preckel, Paul V. & Eales, James S. & Hertel, Thomas W., 2004. "Simultaneous estimation of an implicit directly additive demand system and the distribution of expenditure--an application of maximum entropy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 361-385, March.
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  7. Finger, J Michael, 1981. "Policy Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1270-71, December.
  8. Will Martin & Kym Anderson, 2006. "Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6889, June.
  9. Harrison, Glenn W. & Rutherford, Thomas F. & Tarr,David & Gurgel, Angelo, 2003. "Regional, multilateral, and unilateral trade policies on MERCOSUR for growth and poverty reduction in Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3051, The World Bank.
  10. Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak & Benabou, Roland & Mookherjee, Dilip (ed.), 2006. "Understanding Poverty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195305203, March.
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  15. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Can high-inequality developing countries escape absolute poverty?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 51-57, September.
  16. Harald Grethe, 2006. "Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(4), pages 591-595, December.
  17. Joseph Francois & Hans Van Meijl & Frank Van Tongeren, 2005. "Trade liberalization in the Doha Development Round," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 20(42), pages 349-391, 04.
  18. Christian Arnault Emini & John Cockburn & Bernard Decaluwe, 2005. "The Poverty Impacts of the Doha Round in Cameroon: the Role of Tax Policy," Working Papers MPIA 2005-04, PEP-MPIA.
  19. Rutherford, Thomas & Tarr, David & Shepotylo, Oleksandr, 2005. "The impact on Russia of WTO accession and the Doha agenda : the importance of liberalization of barriers against foreign direct investment in services for growth and poverty reduction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3725, The World Bank.
  20. L. Alan Winters, 2002. "Trade Liberalisation and Poverty: What are the Links?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(9), pages 1339-1367, 09.
  21. Thomas W. Hertel & Maros Ivanic & Paul V. Preckel & John A. L. Cranfield, 2004. "The Earnings Effects of Multilateral Trade Liberalization: Implications for Poverty," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(2), pages 205-236.
  22. Glenn W. Harrison & Thomas F. Rutherford & David G. Tarr, 2002. "Trade Policy Options for Chile: The Importance of Market Access," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(1), pages 49-79, June.
  23. Winters, L Alan, 1987. "The Political Economy of the Agricultural Policy of Industrial," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 14(3), pages 285-304.
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