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

WTO condemns trade restrictions:
How can it be interpreted?

June 27, 2016


Since 2009, the WTO has been taking stock of the number of protectionist measures implemented by the members of the organization. This year at the end of June, the WTO released a report announcing that “trade restrictions imposed by the G20 economies are reaching their highest monthly level since the crisis1.” The data in the report indicates that the G20 economies adopted 145 new restrictive measures between mid-October 2015 and mid-May 2016––an average of 21 new measures each month. Among the most concerned sectors, we find metals, infrastructures and agriculture, whose support measures are especially singled out for blame.

The warnings issued by the WTO regarding rising protectionism looks like raking water up a hill because the entity supposed to guide global governance in international trade seems increasingly delegitimized in the current global context. The successive failures of the Bali and Nairobi conferences, which confirm that the doxa regarding the benefits from liberalization are no longer drawing a full house in agricultural issues, serve as proof.

During the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, the Russian Minister of Agriculture declared that Russia’s membership in the WTO did in no way benefit its agricultural activities2, and even stated that the country’s agribusinesses profited most of all from the Russian embargo.

For its part, India––the G33 flag bearer3––continues to support its public storage policy and the implementation of the “special support mechanism” (SSM)4 at the WTO. An Indian agricultural union recently submitted to the Indian Prime Minister a resolution asking to exclude agriculture from the WTO5.

Lastly, the US Department of Commerce recently announced it wanted to renegotiate the free trade agreements with Mexico due to growing imports of Mexican sugar. In other words, this represents an outcry by the US to protect its domestic market and its sugar industry6.

These three events are not isolated cases and reflect a reality and a fundamental trend. By advocating economic liberalism and the virtues of generalized competition, the WTO itself has created the reasons for its failure. Without a drastic reconsideration of its agenda, the organization will not be able to generate the conditions for the required inter-state cooperation, and provide nations with another option than rising tariff and non-tariff barriers to prevent (and thus augment) lower international prices.

Support to agriculture is escalating, as outlined in the latest OECD report7 and in momagri’s SGPAA (Global Support to Agricultural and Food Production) indicator, and has considerably increased between 2008 and 2015 in most nations, with the noteworthy exception of the European Union.

Finally, the rise of protectionism that is reviled by the WTO is nothing more than acknowledging the failure of liberal theories on market openness. If opening borders were enough to achieve economic development, Bangladesh would have a population of millionaires! Without the implementation of global regulation to prevent the destabilizing effects of agricultural price volatility, many governments have no other choice than resorting to protectionist measures to safeguard their primary mission––the food security of their people.


1 2016 News Items, Report on Recent Trade Developments
https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news16_e/trdev_21jun16_e.htm

2 http://www.interfax.ru/business/513988" ?????? ???? ??????? ? ??? ??????????? ??? ??????????? "
3 This group of 48 countries is seeking to modify the WTO rules of international trade regarding incentives for storage that could as such force them to stabilize domestic prices in their strategy (source: WTO).
4 The SSM is an instrument that will enable developing countries to temporarily raise their tariffs to face increased importations or price declines (source: WTO).
5 http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/2-uncategorised/2083-farmers-union-in-india-demand-exclusion-of-farming-(...)
6 http://fr.franceintheus.org/IMG/pdf/flash_agri_zone_alena_218_juin_2016.pdf
7 http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/(...)/agricultural-policy-monitoring-and-evaluation-2016/(...)

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Paris, 15 December 2018