THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
The official record is in the meeting’s minutes.
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The paper from the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters compiled the latest data notified to the committee by the top 10 agricultural trading nations (in the case of the EU, a group of nations), as part of the committee’s role in monitoring how members implement policies under their WTO obligations.
However, some members see the data as an input into the negotiations, which are held in separate sessions. Different countries drew different analytical conclusions from the data, reflecting their different perspectives on what the negotiations should achieve.
Some focused on the “trade distortion” (when policies cause prices and production to be higher or lower than levels that would usually exist in a competitive market) caused by large overall quantities of support, including increases in major developing countries. Others argued that those figures overlook the difference between the large amounts paid per farm in commercial agriculture, and the considerably smaller amounts paid per head to poor farmers. (More details below).
Questions, answers and Bali
The committee, which consists of all 160 WTO members, also undertook its more routine work of monitoring countries’ policies through questions and answers.
Members questioned more generally included: Brazil, on its domestic support; Canada, on its policies for cheese and other dairy products; China, on domestic support for cotton; Costa Rica, on complying with its support limit for rice (see this news story); India, on its policies for cotton and sugar and its rice and cereals exports; Pakistan, on its wheat export subsidies; Russia on its agricultural support and grain exports, Thailand, on its sugar and rice policies; Turkey, on its wheat flour sales; the US, on its export guarantees; and at the last minute, Indonesia and Angola on measures that would restrict some imports.
Other questions were about the notifications members have to submit annually on their market access, domestic support and export subsidy policies. Here, as usual, the largest number of questions was about domestic support, an area that is particularly complex. The countries most queried were India — 10 questions taking up about 5 pages of document G/AG/W/139 (pdf), following up from the last meeting in November — and the US —10 questions taking up about 2 pages.
(More details below; document G/AG/W/139 includes reference numbers for the questions and answers used in the Agriculture Information Management System (AG-IMS) database).
The committee also briefly continued its monitoring and other follow-up work on other decisions agreed at the WTO Bali Ministerial Conference, with a reminder by the chairperson on the recommended use of an additional column on quota fill rates in tariff quota notifications (under “tariff quota administration”), and information on preparations for the next discussion in June 2015 on export subsidies and other policies grouped under the heading “export competition”.
Chairperson: Ms Miriam Beatriz Chaves of Argentina
(Could be changed, with possible informal meetings before)
- 4–5 June 2015
- 24 September 2015
- 19 November 2015
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• overall trade-distorting domestic support (OTDS)
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