Phase 1 back to top
A number of countries have produced
studies to support their arguments, and these studies have also been debated
— in particular, 38 countries submitted a note for the September 2000
meeting that includes their papers for a conference on non-trade concerns.
Some other countries responded by agreeing that everyone has non-trade
concerns and by calling for proposals for specific measures to be tabled so
that the negotiations can move on to whether trade-distorting measures are
Most countries accept that agriculture
is not only about producing food and fibre but also has other functions,
including these non-trade objectives. The question debated in the WTO is
whether “trade-distorting” subsidies, or subsidies outside the “Green Box”, are needed in order to help agriculture perform its many roles.
Some countries say all the objectives
can and should be achieved more effectively through “Green Box” subsidies
which are targeted directly at these objectives and by definition do not
distort trade. Examples include food security stocks, direct payments to
producers, structural adjustment assistance, safety-net programmes,
environmental programmes, and regional assistance programmes which do not
stimulate agricultural production or affect prices. These countries say the
onus is on the proponents of non-trade concerns to show that the existing
provisions, which were the subject of lengthy negotiations in the Uruguay
Round, are inadequate for dealing with these concerns in targeted, non-trade
Other countries say the non-trade
concerns are closely linked to production. They believe subsidies based on or
related to production are needed for these purposes. For example, rice fields
have to be promoted in order to prevent soil erosion, they say.
Countries such as Japan, Rep of Korea
and Norway place a lot of emphasis on the need to tackle agriculture’s
diversity as part of these non-trade concerns. The EU’s proposal says
non-trade concerns should be targeted (e.g. environmental protection should be
handled through environmental protection programmes), transparent and cause
minimal trade distortion.
Many exporting developing countries say
proposals to deal with non-trade concerns outside the “Green Box” of
non-distorting domestic supports amount to a form of special and differential
treatment for rich countries. Several even argue that any economic activity
— industry, services and so on — have equal non-trade concerns, and
therefore if the WTO is to address this issue, it has to do so in all areas of
the negotiations, not only agriculture. Some others say agriculture is
Proposals that include positions emphasizing non-trade concerns submitted in Phase 1:
for discussion on non-trade concerns tabled in Phase 1
Food security: Phase 2 back to top
(See also developing
countries and net-food importers)
The length of the debate
reflects the fact that all countries consider food security to be important,
especially for developing countries. Opinions differ on how to deal with this.
Among the ideas discussed:
Is it necessary to protect domestic
production in order to ensure food security? Most countries say this is
best handled through a combination of means, but they vary a lot in the
emphasis they give to various methods. These include: trade (importing,
together with exporting in order to finance imports); stockholding; and
domestic production (which can require some support and protection in
They differ on whether liberalization
and market orientation should be the main route because distortions jeopardize
food security (countries advocating substantial liberalization take this
view); whether market failings and particular circumstances such as an adverse
climate require more emphasis on intervention (importing developing countries,
some developed countries favouring continued protection and support); or
whether a gradual approach towards liberalization is best (some European
Some developing countries argue that
they need to intervene in agricultural trade because they see little prospect
of developed countries ceasing to distort markets with subsidies and
protection, because at times they lack foreign exchange, and because they need
to support small-scale subsistence farming.
Some countries distinguish between
short-term and long-term measures and between different problems. One view is
that developing countries’ short-term problems in obtaining food are best
served with well-targeted food aid. In the long term, the solution is raising
incomes, which means liberalization is part of the long-term best solution.
However, complete reliance on market forces could lead to specialization in
different regions, increasing the risk of acute shortages when weather and
other conditions are unfavourable in those regions, and therefore, the best
approach is gradual, monitoring the impacts, according to this view.
Some other countries agree that raising
incomes is the long-term solution to food security. But for the short term,
the Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on Net Food-Importing Developing Countries
and Least Developed Countries, combined with food aid and other emergency
measures apply, they say.
International stockholding and a
revolving fund: Some countries propose creating an international
stockpile. A number of developing countries have proposed a safety-net
revolving fund to allow net food-importing developing countries and least
developed countries to borrow in order to buy food in times of shortage.
Developing countries concerned about food security support the stockpile
proposal. Some countries question whether there should be a new fund,
preferring existing World Bank and IMF programmes.
Phase 2 papers or “non-papers” from: Japan, the US, and 12
developing countries (Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Kenya,
Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe)
Environment: Phase 2 back to top
Among the topics covered in the debate:
Are environmental concerns best handled through comprehensive liberalization
and “targeted, transparent and non- or minimally-distorting” Green Box
supports? Or is agriculture special — i.e. is some support linked more
directly to production necessary, particularly in areas where agricultural
production has a low potential because production is needed for environmental
Phase 2 papers or “non-papers” from: from the Cairns Group,
Japan and Norway
Preparations for ‘modalities’ back to top
In the preparations for “modalities”,
non-trade concerns are not discussed as a separate item. Instead, they are
taken into account in the discussions on each of the three “pillars”:
export subsidies and competition, market access, and domestic support.
Countries pressing for this issue to be included repeatedly stressed that it
is important for them.
The revised first draft ‘modalities’ back to top
Again, this issue is not treated
separately but taken into account under various headings in the draft.
The draft frameworks back to top
(see Cancún ‘framework’ proposals)
Japan’s proposal calls for flexibility in improving market access when products are sensitive and closely related to non-trade concerns. The Pérez del Castillo and Derbez drafts take up the approach of the US-EU draft: that certain non-trade concerns would come under “further work” to be undertaken.
August 2004 framework: non-trade concerns back to top
The framework’s introduction confirms that non-trade concerns will be taken into account.