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Document Abstract
Published: 2003

Stock-take of the WTO agriculture negotiations: implications for developing countries

WTO negotiations: issues for developing countries
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The report provides an outline of the future progress of the WTO negotiations, followed by some basic considerations for a new agreement. A summary of the most important issues for developing countries in the negotiations is then provided. This is followed by an examination of the draft modalities document prepared for the March 2003 meeting of the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture (HT3).

The report argues that market access liberalisation should involve:

  • Deep cuts in peak tariffs, preferably by using a variant of the Swiss Formula
  • Tariff simplification, eliminating seasonal tariffs and converting specific to ad valorem tariffs.
  • A big increase in tariff rate quotas (TRQs)
  • Extension of Special Safeguard mechanisms for key food commodities for developing countries, and a sharp reduction in the existing trigger prices applied by developed countries

The three key points for developing countries are:

  • that the de minimis clause is retained for developing countries;
  • that Article 6(2) exemptions are maintained;
  • hat deep cuts in the AMS are negotiated.

Conclusions:

  • Developing countries have no reason to support the continuation of export subsidies, and they should press for their elimination as proposed in HT3
  • The duration of the Peace Clause covering the Green Box, Article 6(2) and the de minimis provisions needs to be extended. But developing countries should only give their consent to its extension to cover Blue and Amber Box measures, and export subsidies, when they are convinced that their own negotiating demands have been met.

Recommendations to assist developing countries:

  • Identification of specific instances of tariff escalation that harm their interests, so that they can ask for amelioration if this is not addressed by the proposals in HT3.
  • Advice from international experts if they are considering invoking GATT Article XXVIII.
  • In scrutinising the draft Schedules of commitments when they are tabled, to ensure that ‘mistakes’ and inconsistencies have not crept in that penalise their interests.
  • More detailed consideration of the implications of different approaches to tariff reduction for developing countries.
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Authors

T. Ruffer; A. Swinbank

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