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April 2007 : WTO, agriculture negotiations in Doha Round

Brazil, India, the United States, and the European Union met on April 11 and 12 in New Delhi in an effort to find a way out of the current impasse encountered in WTO negotiations. The ministerial declaration of November 14, 2001 places "the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of the Work Programme" of the Doha Round, but six years later some are wondering what has happened to this commitment. With India and Brazil objecting to concessions on industrial tariff barriers likely to benefit China, talks have turned to agricultural issues. Under consideration is the reduction of developing countries’ export subsidies and duties on imported goods. Two years ago the EU promised to do away with its export subsidies by 2013, and today it seems ready to drop tariff barriers by an average of 50%. So far so good for developing countries except that the news from America is less rosy, as the US persists in negotiating without regard for the framework set in 2001. The farm bill currently under consideration calls for no reduction in either US export subsidies or countercyclical payments (which from now on will be based on farm revenue instead of price). The impact of the latter on world cotton markets is all too well known. In a letter expressing their position to the President dated April 12, 2007, 58 US Senators stated that agricultural negotiations of the Doha Round should "result in a net gain for American farmers". It remains to be seen whether such a goal is compatible with the development goals of the Doha program, or whether instead it will be business as usual with developing nations’ interests the last to be served.

Publié le : 7 juin 2007

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