Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

Update Phase 2: food aid

Food aid

See also Phase 1 (decision on net food-importing developing countries)

All agree that food aid for humanitarian purposes is essential. Most of the discussion has been about how best to ensure that the aid goes to those really in need, does not harm domestic production in countries receiving aid, does not distort trade (in particular jeopardise exports from competing suppliers), responds genuinely to demand, does not amount to the disposal of surpluses in subsidizing countries, and does not allow countries to get around their export subsidy commitments.

Most countries argue that aid should only be in the form of grants — i.e. not on credit. But some warn that this could be too rigid and prevent food aid from promptly reaching those who need it.

Many developing countries are calling for binding commitments from donor countries on the amounts they supply, with rising amounts of food at times of high prices, aid supplies in response to demand, technical and financial assistance to help countries develop domestic production instead of relying on food aid, and increased transparency through notifications to the WTO Agriculture Committee. Some developed countries also endorse some of these ideas.

Also discussed are ideas for international stock-piling and a revolving fund (proposed by some developing countries in Phase I).

Papers or “non-papers” from: 

Papers or “non-papers” from: 7 developing countries (Cuba, Egypt, Grenada, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Uganda), EU, Japan, Mercosur, Namibia, Norway.

Previous  Next >

Want to download and print this backgrounder?
> Download here

The second phase consists of detailed discussions on the many issues raised in the first phase, organized topic by topic. The meetings are largely “informal”, meaning that there is no official record except for chairperson’s summaries presented at the formal meetings. Papers presented so far have not been official WTO documents. Despite the increased complexity, developing countries continue to participate actively.