A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

Agriculture at the WTO and in free trade agreements: Warning, sensitive topic

March 23, 2015

A Cairns Group’s1 updated paper on the scope of domestic support granted by the world’s ten major agricultural powers2 was discussed at the latest regular meeting of the WTO Agriculture Committee.

According to the Cairns Group, the total support in absolute terms increased in the ten nations involved between 2001 and 2013. The surge was more rapid in four developing nations––China, Brazil, India and Indonesia––but the baseline was much lower there. In 2012, production support reached an average of 19.3 percent in developed nations, and 12.4 percent for developing countries (LDCs).

Far from easing people’s minds, the document raised diverging interpretations by the Committee members, and created once again a split among developed and developing countries, with India taking the lead.

Such dissentions within the WTO regarding agricultural issues are not new. They ultimately confirm that these issues are indeed materializing tensions and jeopardizing the conclusion of the Doha Round. Yet beyond the byzantine bickering, this umpteenth meeting is the additional proof that agricultural powers are far from accepting the total liberalization of their agricultural activities, since they are considered by all as a key strategic asset. The “box shifting” practice that aims to increase internal support in the green box (non-distorting support) represents an example of one of such demonstrations.

This is the case of Japan, which has recently been singled out for its support policy in a WTO report released in January 2015. Thus states the report, while Tokyo has kept moving towards income support, supporting market prices is the system’s key component, and is considered as one of the support measures most likely to distort trade and production. Finally, the notifications submitted indicate that two thirds of total support to agriculture falls in the green box, and one third in the amber box.

Agriculture is also the delaying the certainly heated negotiations for the free trade agreement with the United States––that should ultimately include the Transpacific Partnership Agreement––and with the EU. In the framework of these agreements, Japan has rejected some agricultural commodities and related sensitive products, thus showing the complexity and threat of an liberalized agricultural policy.

Since 1994, the agricultural issue represents the major obstruction to the success of the WTO talks, and a sensitive point in the free trade negotiations. In the end, this observation confirms that the world’s agricultural powers are increasingly unwilling to sacrifice their agricultural interests in favor of a WTO or a free trade agreement.

1 A group of 20 exporting countries promoting trade liberalization.
2 United States, the EU, China, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and Australia.

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Paris, 20 June 2019