WTO trade ministers move to eliminate agriculture export subsidies

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The FAO says it has welcomed an agreement by World Trade Organization (WTO) member states through the recently adopted “Nairobi Package” to move towards eliminating export subsidies involving agricultural products. However, it also noted that differences remain over other measures aimed at creating fairer global trading conditions, in particular for developing countries.

A declaration issued on 19 December at the conclusion of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya includes a number of decisions in relation to the Agreement on Agriculture.

In particular, four ministerial decisions were adopted, addressing the following:

– Export competitiveness through the elimination of many export subsidies by all countries by 2018

– Allowing developing countries to continue, for the time being, public stockpiling for food security

– The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to make recourse to when facing a surge of imports, and;

– A commitment by developed countries to provide duty-free and quota-free access to cotton exporters from less developed countries from 2016, provided that this is compatible with existing agreements.

José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director General, while welcoming the Nairobi agreement, stressed the need for a global trade framework in which countries can balance the pursuit of their national food security and development objectives without harming their trading partners.

“The continued uncertainty on how to negotiate such a framework is worrying in a world in which global agricultural trade is likely to grow in importance in the coming decades as patterns of consumption and production continue to evolve,” the FAO Director-General said.

“Greater participation in global trade is therefore inevitable for most countries, however, the process of opening further to trade, and its consequences, will need to be well managed if trade is to improve food security,” he added.

 

CALEB OJEWALE

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