WTO Leaders Agree to End Farm Subsidies as Doha Unresolved

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EU welcomes WTO deal.

Brussels, 19 Dec. 19, 2015 — The World Trade Organization (WTO) today has delivered a landmark deal that is good for fairer global trade and good for development at its 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, the EU said in a press release.After hectic negotiations for five consecutive days, the WTO Trade Ministers concluded their talks last evening without any commitment on rich countries being asked to check their domestic subsidies. The 10th WTO Ministerial Conference, gathered in Nairobi since Tuesday, agreed on a global trade deal that benefits developing countries in Africa and around the world by getting rid of trade distorting export subsidies in agriculture. Developed countries will immediately eliminate export-subsidy entitlements while developing nations must end direct support by the end of 2018, according to the ministerial declaration accepted on Saturday in the Kenyan capital.

Sylvester Bagooro, programme officer Third World Network Africa says the Doha Development Agenda was largely sidelined, which is disastrous for Africa’s agricultural transformation. India has expressed its disappointment over non-reaffirmation to conclude 14-year-old Doha Round pacts, even as WTO meeting in Nairobi managed to win a commitment to allow developing nations to use special safeguards to protect farmers against import surges. As regards EU producers, they will for the first time see a level playing field in export competition, a key priority for EU negotiators, the press release stated. Talks at the trade body’s first ministerial conference on the continent ran more than 24 hours past its self-imposed deadline. “The decision you have taken today on export competition is truly extraordinary,” WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said at the closing session of the conference. “It is the WTO’s most significant outcome on agriculture.” The declaration gives developing countries the right to use a special safeguard mechanism that allows them to raise tariffs temporarily to deal with a surge in imports or falling prices. It will also make it easier for so-called least-developed countries to benefit from preferential market access for their goods. “Our work to secure a global ban on export subsidies will help level the playing field for American farmers and ranchers,” United States trade representative Michael Froman said in an e-mailed statement. “The WTO’s actions in this area will put an end to some of the most trade-distorting subsidies in existence.” There was no consensus in the final declaration on the future of the Doha talks, named after the Qatari capital in which they started in 2001 with the aim of adding billions of dollars to global trade by stimulating cross-border commerce.

During the conference, delegates agreed on the elimination of agricultural and export subsidies, which have largely inhibited the developing countries potential to trade. “India, Africa and the developing world have lost out on the 15 years of negotiations by killing the Doha Round in Nairobi. The EU team, led by Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, and Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture, was at the forefront of efforts to broker a deal. African producers threatened earlier to open a case under the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism as early as January, in the event rich nations don’t significantly reduce or eliminate trade-distorting support to their farmers. Both the content and the process seen at the Ministerial are a testament to the betrayal not just of the much hailed but never persuasive development components in the Doha Agenda but also the failure of the EU and US to fulfil the promises they made in signing the Uruguay Round Agreements 20 years ago.” “It is absurd to suggest developing countries should somehow “pay” for the U.S. and E.U. to end more than 50 years of deeply trade distorting agricultural policies. Cecilia Malmström, welcoming the deal, said “We’ve had some long days and nights of intense negotiations here in Nairobi, and our work has paid off.

He says the move removes the distortion the subsides have caused in agriculture market thereby helping to level the plain field for the benefit of farmers and exporters in developed and least developed countries. Earlier in the week, trade leaders announced the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, which will cut tariffs on $1.3 trillion of IT products. Seeks to simplify the conditions that exporters from the poorest countries have to meet, so that their products benefit from trade agreements (so-called rules of origin).

They come on the back of other important multilateral successes with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and last week’s climate change agreement.

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