Following difficult negotiating sessions, World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed to adopt multilateral agreements on efforts to reduce barriers at borders as well as several agricultural provisions.
“Trade facilitation measures that reduce transaction costs and red tape should improve overall trade benefits, including agriculture related products,” said Floyd Gaibler, U.S. Grains Council Director of Trade Policy.
WTO members established an interim food security program that will allow countries with existing food stockholding programs to continue to operate those existing programs even if they exceed or will result in exceeding their allowable domestic subsidies for an interim period until a final agreement is reached.
“While the agreement sets a target for reaching a final solution in four years at the 11th WTO Ministerial, it is not a binding duration,” he said.
Gaibler went on to say, however, that the agreement requires strong transparency and safeguard provisions, including protections to ensure that the operation of food stockholding programs will not distort trade or food security of other countries.
“Importantly, countries will be allowed to participate in the work program to ensure that the transparency and safeguard provisions are met, and they will have input in development of a permanent solution,” he said.
An agreement was also reached on provisions that will improve the administration of tariff rate quotas and reconfirm the commitment to complete elimination of export subsidies and reductions in export guarantee programs that were agreed to at the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial.
Gaibler concluded by saying, “Most importantly, the 9th Ministerial agreement provides a pathway for broader post-Doha multilateral negotiations. These will encompass the remaining agricultural pillars — domestic subsidies and market access — that have been delayed since the suspension of the Doha negotiations in 2008.”