Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO's committees and agreements

AGRICULTURE NEGOTIATIONS: BACKGROUNDER

Transition economies

So far, two proposals deal specifically with concerns of countries in transition from central planning to market economies. They deal with domestic support and market access. These countries say that shortage of capital, lack of a well-functioning credit system, government budget constraints and other problems they are experiencing in the transition mean that exposing agriculture to market forces would disrupt the sector.

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UPDATED 1 DECEMBER 2004

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This briefing document explains current agricultural issues raised before and in the current negotiations. It has been prepared by the Information and Media Relations Division of the WTO Secretariat to help public understanding about the agriculture negotiations. It is not an official record of the negotiations.


For domestic support, these countries are calling for extra flexibility in providing certain subsidies (for example for debt and interest payments) and in general to be allowed higher ceilings on amounts of support that are considered small enough (“de minimis”) not to be counted in reduction commitments. Under market access they want to continue protecting some of their own products with existing tariff levels — without having to reduce them further — including those that already have low tariffs. They also want to negotiate the removal of non-tariff barriers in their export markets.

These countries stress that the flexibility would be temporary — so long as the problems of transition persist — and would not lead to additional distortions in agricultural trade.

 

The revised first draft ‘modalities’  back to top

For specific groups of countries in general, including transition economies, the draft simply says participants will continue to consider proposals on these groups.

Proposals on transition economies submitted in Phase 1

  • 12 transition economies: domestic support — additional flexibility for transition economies G/AG/NG/W/56
  • 11 transition economies: market access G/AG/NG/W/57

  

The draft frameworks  back to top

(see Cancún ‘framework’ proposals)

The Pérez del Castillo and Derbez drafts deal broadly with this as “flexibility for certain groupings” among a long list of “other” issues to be negotiated by building on the revised “modalities” draft.

  

August 2004 framework: transition economies and new members  back to top

By August 2004 a number of economies in transition from central planning had joined the EU. Several of the rest joined forces with other countries that had recently joined the WTO in pressing for additional flexibility because they are already liberalizing under their membership agreements. The framework confirms this in principle, with details to be negotiated further.

 

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