International Trade Daily™ provides rapid, reliable notification of the most significant developments affecting U.S. trade and international business policy, as well as the policies of major U.S....
July 21 — Two of the most important countries influencing global food prices — China and the U.S. — don't appear willing to modify their farm subsidy policies any time soon, World Trade Organization (WTO) members told Bloomberg BNA.
Despite a fruitful week of agriculture negotiations in Geneva, trade officials said rising trade tensions between Beijing and Washington have reduced expectations for any near-term reductions in their respective domestic support polices.
Their reluctance came as a multitude of small and developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific urged all WTO members — not just developed economies such as the U.S. and European Union — to cut back their domestic support schemes.
If the Chinese and U.S. positions remain fixed, it could jeopardize the WTO's effort to advance a package of trade deals at their 2017 ministerial conference, participants told Bloomberg BNA.
Since 2001, WTO members have sought to achieve “substantial reductions” of trade-distorting domestic support in line with the goals of the Doha Development Agenda.
Despite the Doha Round's lofty ambitions, the domestic support pillar has ranked among the most deadlocked areas of the agriculture negotiations, due in part to the dramatic increases in payments from large, emerging economies such as China and India.
Last year, U.S. trade negotiators failed to convince China to reduce its overall trade-distorting support (OTDS) for farm goods or even agree to a standstill provision (153 ITD, 8/10/15).
Meanwhile, Beijing maintains that any domestic support agreement should provide special and differential treatment for developing countries according to the terms of a 2008 WTO proposal known as Rev. 4.
The U.S. told members of the WTO's agriculture negotiating committee July 18 that finding the “right solution” is essential, though it remains to be seen whether that can happen before, during or after the WTO's 11th ministerial conference (MC11).
An agreement to reduce domestic support is key to advancing any other trade agreements at the WTO's biennial conference in December 2017, WTO members told Bloomberg BNA.
Between now and MC11, trade ministers are discussing ways to advance a package of deals regarding digital trade rules, fishery subsidies and domestic regulation of services, among other issues.
None of these will advance, however, if China and the U.S. can't find middle ground on the domestic support issue, trade negotiators told Bloomberg BNA.
“Agriculture should form part of any outcome at MC11,” Vangelis Vitalis, the chairman of the WTO Committee on Agriculture in Special Session, said in his July 20 report.
Vitalis said he was “encouraged” by the latest agriculture negotiations because WTO members “appeared poised to move from reflection to action” for the first time since their 2015 ministerial conference.
Member engagement was “substantially” improved from the previous meeting in May, and some had signaled their positions with specific proposals regarding domestic support and market access, Vangelis said.
Specifically, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay offered a proposal to reduce members' overall trade-distorting domestic support via numerical limits, percentage limits, specific product caps or other export measures.
Though members offered differing views on the proposal, “it is clear that there is an appetite for enhanced and additional disciplines on domestic support in general and cotton in particular,” Vitalis wrote.
The next session of the WTO's agriculture negotiating committee will be held in October.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)