At the meeting, members continued examining each other’s farm policies to ensure compliance with WTO rules while working through other implementation issues relevant to the WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Bali and Nairobi ministerial decisions. Members decided to defer the decision on the first triennial review of the operation of the Bali Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) Decision to the next committee meeting slated for March 2023.

Members adopt work plan to support LDCs and NFIDCs

Consensus was reached on an urgent call to deliver aid quickly to those hit hardest by the acute food security crisis. Building on the intense discussions since June and the documents tabled by the WTO Secretariat and the main proponents, the approved work programme sets out the roadmap for the committee to advance discussions on the key concerns of LDCs and NFIDCs relating to food security, with the aim of achieving concrete solutions no later than 30 November 2023.

The guiding principles include keeping the forum open and flexible for all members to share experience, engaging with relevant international organizations for inputs, and organizing workshops for technical discussions.

The work programme outlines four primary themes to guide future discussions: access to international food markets, financing food imports, agricultural and production resilience of LDCs and NFIDCs, and a set of horizontal issues to foster collaboration. Members also appointed the current chair as the coordinator to lead a working group for topic-by-topic discussions in the coming months.

It was agreed that the working group can make use of topical questionnaires to collect information and understand the real needs of LDCs and NFIDCs while developing well-targeted solutions. Inputs from relevant international organizations and experience-sharing by countries will also be important sources of information.

The chair welcomed the adoption of the work programme and lauded the fruitful results achieved since the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June. He said he intended to convene a meeting in early December to kick off discussions, including seeking advice on the frequency of the working group meetings, suggestions on the questionnaire and a possible presentation by LDCs and NFIDCs.

Response to the pandemic, food security

The Committee continued discussing how to implement the MC12 declaration on the response to the pandemic and the MC12 declaration on food security within the context of agriculture.

Members heard updates on food markets and the current global food security outlook by several leading international organizations, such as the World Bank, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, G/AG/GEN/209), World Food Programme (WFP, G/AG/GEN/208), International Grains Council (IGC, G/AG/GEN/207), Inter‑American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA, G/AG/GEN/210) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF,  G/AG/GEN/211).

The WFP delivered a sobering message, warning that the world was facing the worst food crisis in modern history with 345 million people across 82 countries being acutely food insecure in 2022 –200 million more than pre-pandemic levels. FAO and WFP data indicate that NFIDCs are the hardest hit by the crisis, with their food import bills surging to record highs (USD 43 billion). They warned that an even more severe global food crisis in 2023 is yet to come.

All organizations presented their recent initiatives and policy recommendations to help improve the accessibility to food and boost local productivity, notably highlighting the WTO-FAO joint report on fertilizers, the World Bank's Global Alliance for Food Security and the IMF's new Food Shock Window, which provides access to emergency financing for countries facing balance-of-payment problems related to the global food crisis.

FAO, the WFP and others also stressed the importance of keeping food and input markets open and enhancing transparency through timely and quality data-sharing. The WFP indicated it will provide periodic updates to the committee in relation to the MC12 Decision concerning its food purchases, starting from 2023.

Members welcomed a wealth of information contributed by international organizations. While some stressed trade's critical role in ensuring food security, some developing members reiterated the need for financing food bills and buttressing local production and long-term resilience.

A few members supported the World Bank's view and called for repurposing the large amount of trade-distorting domestic support to accelerate innovation and invest in research and development. The recent extension of the Black Sea Grain Deal was welcomed by members, noting it is crucial to stabilize the food market. Many members underlined the importance of further coordination with other international organizations and explored ways to ensure their inputs feed into the discussions in the new WTO Work Programme for LDCs and NFIDCs.

Regular review of agricultural policies

Twenty-nine new issues were taken up as members examined each other's farm policies in relation to the three pillars of agriculture trade: market access, domestic support and export competition.

Particular attention was paid to China's new farm initiatives, the European Union's new Common Agricultural Policy, India's food security policies, the US Inflation Reduction Act and other farm support policies. Russia also raised questions on some agricultural restrictive measures introduced by a group of members. All questions are compiled here.

Among 25 recurring issues raised at previous committee meetings, members continued to look into the EU's deforestation regulation, India's multiple farm policies and Canada's dairy mechanism, among other things.

Members also seized the opportunity to seek further information on individual notifications submitted by members with regard to tariff quota administration, special agricultural safeguards, domestic support and export subsidy notifications.

Members heard an update on nine members' requests for consultations with India seeking more detailed information regarding its public stockholding programmes, in line with paragraph 6 of the Bali decision on public stockholding programme for food security purposes. Requesting members said bilateral consultations with India are getting under way this week.

All questions submitted for the meeting are available in G/AG/W/226. All questions and replies received are available in the WTO's Agriculture Information Management System (AG IMS).

Triennial review of the operation of the Bali TRQ Decision

Members discussed the updated draft report on the first triennial review (RD/AG/95/Rev.1) of the operation of the Bali Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) Decision, which focuses primarily on how transparency of tariff quota administration arrangements could be further improved. Due to remaining divergences and some members' request for more time, the committee decided to defer the decision on the draft report to the next committee meeting in March 2023, with the possibility of holding informal consultations before that date to settle differences.

Enhancing transparency

Stressing the importance of strengthening transparency in the committee, the chair said the large amount of overdue and incomplete notifications and responses to questions, as reflected in G/AG/GEN/86/Rev.47 and G/AG/W/204/Rev.8 respectively, attested to the need to redouble efforts to improve the record and the function of the review process.  

Members also continued discussions on how to modernize and streamline the notification obligations at the committee. As part of those efforts, it was agreed that from the next committee meeting in March 2023, members may use the meetings to announce non-recourse to agricultural export subsidies in order to provide information on their outstanding annual export subsidy notifications.  This mechanism is applicable only for members reporting “nil” export subsidies. It will be an additional avenue for members to tackle outstanding export subsidy notifications in addition to the traditional route of submitting notifications to the WTO's central registry of notifications.  

Other business

Indonesia made a statement on behalf of 14 developing members expressing deep concerns over the EU's draft deforestation regulation, which is currently being negotiated at the EU parliament, Council and Commission. The group was of the view that the law in its current form is potentially discriminatory and will create a new trade barrier, which is inconsistent with WTO rules. Indonesia said their joint letter to the EU on 27July regarding this matter will be circulated soon. 


The chair shared members' feedback, and sought additional views, on the draft annual report to the Council for Trade in Goods (CTG) which will be transmitted to the CTG shortly (released later as G/L/1446). He will also share two upcoming factual reports to the CTG on the WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and on the current functioning of the committee. Both reports are being drafted upon the request of the chair of the CTG.

The next meeting of the Agriculture Committee is slated for 27-28 March 2023.

More information on the work of the Committee on Agriculture is available here




Marcel Vernooij (Netherlands), Chair of the Committee on Agriculture

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