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Reform of Agricultural Trade: Where to From Here? . Robert L. Thompson Massey University 7 October 2003. Outline of Presentation. World Agriculture in Disarray Why the Developing Country Concern The Doha Round Cancun Where to Now Ag Econ Research/Communications Needs.

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reform of agricultural trade where to from here

Reform of Agricultural Trade: Where to From Here?

Robert L. Thompson

Massey University

7 October 2003

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation
  • World Agriculture in Disarray
  • Why the Developing Country Concern
  • The Doha Round
  • Cancun
  • Where to Now
  • Ag Econ Research/Communications Needs
world agriculture in disarray
World Agriculture in Disarray
  • OECD agricultural production and export subsidies of almost $1 billion per day (2001):
    • induce larger production in less efficient areas
    • depress world market prices below long term trend
  • Import quotas increase variance in world prices around that trend.
  • OECD protectionist barriers reduce LDCs’ foreign exchange earning capacity and impede their economic growth.
  • LDC governments’ own policies suppress their food production relative to potential.
ag policies distort production decisions and concentrate wealth
Ag Policies Distort Production Decisions and Concentrate Wealth
  • Distort domestic terms of trade in favor of politically powerful commodities/groups
  • Subsidies tied to output of specific commodities stimulate larger production in less efficient locations
  • Subsidies justified on basis of low farm income but distributed in proportion to sales are ultimately bid into land prices, benefiting large farmers & land-owners
growing world agricultural trade
Growing World Agricultural Trade
  • The world’s arable land is not distributed around in the world in the same proportions as is population.
  • Agriculture in most LDCs is underperforming relative to its potential consistent with economic efficiency and environmental sustainability.
  • With population growth and urbanization in LDCs, a larger fraction of world food production is expected to move through world trade.
  • Broad-based economic development in LDCs will accentuate this via growing commercial trade.
  • Stagnating economies and farm sectors will accentuate the trend through growing need for food aid.
the world s arable land left is distributed very differently than its population right
The World’s Arable Land (left)Is Distributed Very Differentlythan Its Population (right)
population growth prb estimates
Population Growth (PRB estimates)
  • Region 20022025 2050
  • World 6,215 7,859 9,104
  • High Income 1,197 1,249 1,231
  • Low Income 5,018 6,610 7,873
  • Africa 840 1,281 1,845
  • Asia 3,766 4,741 5,297
  • Latin America 531 697 815
poverty and hunger
Poverty and Hunger
  • 1.25 billion people live on less than $1 per day; 70% of them are rural, and most of these depend on farming, forestry or fishing for their meager incomes.
  • Of these, 700 million people suffer under-nutrition or hunger.
  • Hunger is due mainly to poverty except in times of war, natural disaster or politically-imposed famine.
  • 3 billion people (half of the world’s population) live on less than $2 per day.
  • How many of these are lifted out of their poverty is the most important determinant of the future size of the world market.
income growth creates demand
Income Growth Creates Demand
  • Very low income people spend the first increments in purchasing power on the needs of life, esp. food staples.
  • As incomes rise further, diets start to change with addition of fruits, vegetables, edible oils; animal protein
  • By $3,000 per capita income, people start to purchase processed and packaged foods
  • In rich countries further income growth adds little to total demand for agricultural products, but the mix of what products are consumed may change and demand for further processing, convenience, and packaging rises.
  • Broad-based economic growth could add as much (or more) to global food demand as population growth
the global trading environment hurts ldc agriculture
The Global Trading Environment Hurts LDC Agriculture
  • OECD protectionist barriers to LDC goods reduces their foreign exchange earning capacity and economic growth.
  • OECD agricultural production and export subsidies depress world market prices below long term trend and increase variance around that trend
  • Food aid is most available in years of OECD surplus, not LDC deficit.
  • LDCs haven’t gotten much out of past agricultural trade agreements.
ldcs own policies also impede their agricultural development
LDCs’ Own Policies Also Impede Their Agricultural Development
  • Corruption and/or macroeconomic instability.
  • Lack of definition or enforcement of property rights and contract sanctity
  • Underinvestment in public goods, such as rural infrastructure and ag research (Green Box)
  • Cheap food policies to keep urban consumers quiescent – often reinforced by food aid or subsidized exports from OECD
  • Lack of technology adapted to local agro-ecological conditions (soils, climate; slope)
uruguay round agreement on agriculture accomplishments
Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture: Accomplishments
  • Increased market access as % of consumption
  • Reduced export subsidies (value & volume)
  • Converted all non-tariff barriers to tariffs
  • Required scientific basis for all SPS barriers
  • Acknowledged that some domestic agricultural subsidies can distort trade and categorized them by degree of trade distortion:
    • “Green box” = non trade distorting investments in public goods and decoupled income transfers
    • “Amber box” = trade-distorting (bound and reduced)
    • “Blue box” = trade-distorting, but offset by production controls or set-asides
uruguay round brought agriculture under trade rules
Uruguay Round Brought Agriculture Under Trade Rules
  • Uruguay Round established useful framework
  • But, it did little to open markets and contained a lot of loopholes
  • Doha Round can and must be more ambitious than Uruguay Round and avoid moves back from a rules based trading environment
  • In particular, the framework needs stronger controls and tighter disciplines
doha round must do better
Doha Round Must Do Better
  • Uruguay Round established a useful framework
  • But, it did little to open markets, and OECD countries are still spending close to $1 billion per day subsidizing their farmers
  • Doha Round can and must be more ambitious than the Uruguay Round by closing loopholes and imposing stronger controls and tighter disciplines to prevent circumvention of the intent of the agreement.
doha round progression
Doha Round Progression
  • Individual proposals and “non-papers”
  • Harbinson I
  • Harbinson II
  • US-EU text
  • G-20 text
  • Perez de Castillo text
  • Derbez text






Costa Rice




El Salvador








South Africa




perceived problems with derbez text
Perceived Problems with Derbez text
  • Domestic support
    • Too much of US-EU paper, esp. blue box (no more supply restriction; makes U.S. counter-cyclical payments blue)
    • Extended Peace Clause
  • Export subsidies
    • Only eliminated for “products of special interest to LDCs and developing countries)
  • Market access
    • Took US-EU blended formula for tariff cuts
    • Included opt out from tariff cap for sensitive commodities
    • No commitments to increase TRQs
  • Neither precluded not assured an aggressive outcome
cancun problems
Cancun Problems
  • Too many too complex issues on table
  • Insufficient closure prior to arrival
  • Impossibility of 148 to reach consensus
  • US-EU deal seen as Blair House Redux
  • G-20X overplayed its hand
  • Inexperienced LDC negotiators
  • EU made concessions too late
  • Political constraints on US & EU going further now
  • Arrogance, intransigence & brinkmanship of US and EU
  • Korea & Japan’s insistence on all Singapore issues conveniently avoided addressing agriculture
cancun issues
Cancun Issues
  • Cotton became cause celebre
  • US-EU vs. G-20X vs. Derbez drafts
  • S&D (What’s a “developing” country?)
  • Role of NGOs, esp. Oxfam
  • Special Products
  • ACP concern for loss of preferences
  • Singapore issues (investment, competition, customs procedures; government procurement)
  • Single undertaking
transnational ngos oppose
Transnational NGOs Oppose:
  • Free trade and globalization
  • Economic growth/change
  • Big business
  • Large scale agriculture
  • Intense (high yield) agric production & monoculture
  • Private sector ag research and IPRs
  • Agricultural biotechnology (“GMOs”)
  • Agricultural chemicals (prefer organic production)
  • Meat consumption
  • Dams
  • WTO, IMF & World Bank
international food agricultural trade policy council
International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council
  • 37 former trade negotiators and senior government officials, agribusiness executives, farm leaders, and academics from 21 countries (including Cairns Group, European Union, LDCs, developing countries, Japan; USA)
  • Consensus: Despite gaps in national proposals and pessimism in some capitals, there are politically viable compromises to move agri-cultural trade liberalization beyond Uruguay Round
improve market access
Improve Market Access
  • Expand minimum market access quotas each year
  • Establish a maximum tariff rate and reduce all tariff peaks to that maximum
  • Require a minimum tariff cut to each product and at least the average tariff cut to each tariff chapter
  • Eliminate in-quota tariffs immediately
  • Reduce escalation of tariffs with degree of processing
address importers concerns
Address Importers’ Concerns
  • Update national consumption base for minimum market access to recent period
  • Institute transparent safeguard mechanism (with bound triggers and time-limits) for both developing and developed countries.
  • Ban export embargoes and restrictions
  • Address Net Food Importing LDCs concerns through foreign aid, not WTO
  • Now is not the time to reopen the SPS Agreement.
reduce trade distorting support
Reduce Trade Distorting Support
  • Tighten criteria for decoupled income transfers to be classified as Green Box (non-trade-distorting)
  • Reduce Amber Box, Blue Box (supply controlled) and other product specific support
  • Make reductions commodity by commodity
non trade concerns
Non-trade Concerns
  • It is not WTO’s role to question policy rationale, but to discipline policies
  • Non-trade concerns best addressed through Green Box measures
  • If specific commodity support or on-going subsidies are needed, classify as Amber Box
discipline export competition
Discipline Export “Competition”
  • Eliminate export subsidies by date certain
  • Discipline export credits, food aid and state trading entities (esp. single desk)
  • Reduce and harmonize export taxes
special differential treatment for ldcs developing countries
Special & Differential Treatmentfor LDCs & Developing Countries
  • Definition of “developing” country
  • Shallower tariff cuts over longer period
  • Eliminate tariffs and quotas for LDCs (transform special preferences into general preferences)
  • Don’t cap Green Box investments in public goods
where to now
Where to Now
  • More bilaterals and regional FTAs likely
  • Election cycles dictate earliest possible conclusion = late 2005 (2007 or 2009 probably more likely
  • U.S. budget deficit will have to be addressed in 2005
  • EU must broaden liberalization (while phasing out EBA exceptions)
  • US and Japan have to prepare their agricultural constituencies for liberalization
  • Will G-22 hang together? If so,
  • Whither the Cairns Group?
  • Expiration of Peace Clause to bring WTO cases in 2004
  • Need to continue capacity building in LDCs (policy analysis, negotiating, and competitiveness)
research communication needs
Research & Communication Needs
  • Debunk myths popularized by NGOs and other opponents to trade liberalization
  • PSEs for LDCs and developing countries; reconcile negative PSEs with tariff protection; alternative sources of tax revenue in LDCs lowering tariffs
  • Link between agricultural trade liberalization and poverty reduction
  • Value of preferences to LDCs; Who really gets benefits? Rent seeking?
  • Agricultural adjustment
    • design transition strategies to neutralize political opposition to reform in OECD
    • Design transition strategies for LDCs to compensate for losses of losers from liberalization and to increase competitiveness
more research needs
More Research Needs
  • Disequilibrium exchange rates
  • Specific tariffs
  • How production neutral are “decoupled” income transfers in Green Box?
  • Costs of protectionism in commodities important to LDCs, e.g. rice, cotton; sugar
  • Welfare effect of depressing ag prices on low income rural households (net sellers or buyers)
  • Implications of factor intensity reversals in agriculture
  • Estimate decline in income elasticities for food as incomes rise from very low levels
more research
More Research
  • Impacts (macro and micro) of international commodity market price volatility on LDCs
  • Implications of WTO adopting UN definition of “developing country”
  • Dynamic effects of ag trade liberalization
  • Improve policy variables in GTAP
  • With agronomists improve estimates of substitutability among crops in different agro-ecosystems
  • Document rural poverty reduction success stories
  • Economics of irrigating row crops