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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Farm Exporting Countries Outline Agriculture Negotiating Ideas for WTO Ministerial

The Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries has called for action on farm trade issues for the WTO’s upcoming ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this December, tabling an informal paper that notes “overwhelming” support for an outcome on agricultural domestic support. The new paper is the first joint statement of the Cairns Group’s stance after separate papers were tabled by sub-sets of its members last year. The coalition includes nearly 20 countries from both the developed and developing world, including different world regions.  The group’s paper calls for action on three areas addressed under current WTO rules on agricultural trade: domestic support, market access, and export competition. The last of these covers export subsidies and similar measures. Cairns Group members will continue to “engage constructively” in negotiations on two other farm trade areas cited by ministers at the WTO’s Nairobi conference in 2015. These include finding a permanent solution to problems under global trade rules facing some developing countries when buying food at government-set prices for public stocks, as well as a new safeguard mechanism to protect developing countries from sudden import surges and price depressions. The paper has been circulated by the sponsors ahead of informal meetings convened by the chair of the WTO’s farm trade talks, which are due to take place early next month. Concentration of support “must be addressed” The group argues that WTO members must agree to address the concentration of domestic support on specific agricultural products in some countries. “Excessive concentrations of product-specific support continue to impact world market prices for a range of goods, many of which are of great importance to developing and least developed countries,” the paper says. The Cairns Group singles out rice, sugar, dairy, wheat, soybeans, beef, and cotton as examples of markets which are especially affected by the phenomenon. The group’s new submission also backed a separate proposal from the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for action on cotton. (See Bridges Weekly, 2 February 2017) “Negotiations must lead to a significant reduction, with a view to total elimination, of all types of domestic support that have distorting effects on the cotton market,” the Cairns Group paper says.

Source: International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development