Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

Net food-importing developing countries

The present rules and commitments on agriculture are often called the “Uruguay Round reform programme” — they were negotiated in the Uruguay Round and they include reductions in subsidies and protection as well as other disciplines on the trade.

Agreement on Agriculture
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> Net food-importing developing countries
> Summary

The ministerial decision:
The Ministerial Decision on Measures concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries

This Decision was adopted as part of the outcome of the Uruguay Round negotiations on agriculture. The Decision recognises that while the progressive implementation of the results of the Uruguay Round as a whole will generate increasing opportunities for trade expansion and economic growth to the benefit of all Members, during the reform programme least-developed and net food-importing developing countries may experience negative effects in terms of the availability of adequate supplies of basic foodstuffs from external sources on reasonable terms and conditions, including short-term difficulties in financing normal levels of commercial imports of basic foodstuffs.

Ministers agreed to a number of mechanisms to ensure that the implementation of the results of the Uruguay Round does not adversely affect the availability of food aid at a level which is sufficient to continue to provide assistance in meeting the food needs of developing countries. These mechanisms include a review of the level of food aid established periodically by the Committee on Food Aid under the Food Aid Convention and the initiation of negotiations to establish a level of food aid commitments sufficient to meet the legitimate needs of developing countries during the reform programme; the adoption of guidelines to ensure that an increasing proportion of basic foodstuffs is provided in fully grant form; and agreement by the developed country Members to give full consideration in the context of their aid programmes to requests for the provision of technical and financial assistance to least-developed and net food-importing developing countries to improve their agricultural productivity and infrastructure.

Ministers also agreed to ensure that any agreement relating to agricultural export credits makes appropriate provision for differential treatment in favour of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries. The Decision recognizes that in case of short-term difficulties in financing normal levels of commercial imports, net food-importing developing countries may be eligible to draw on the resources of international financial institutions under existing facilities, or such facilities as may be established, in the context of adjustment programmes, in order to address such financing difficulties.

The Decision’s follow-up is monitored by the Committee on Agriculture and it is subject to regular review by the Ministerial Conference. As part of a series of steps to make the Decision operational, the Committee established a WTO list of least-developed and net food-importing countries since the Decision describes but does not list the countries that are to be covered by the Decision. The list of net food-importing developing countries can be found here.

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