Ag Issues At Center of World Trade Organization Meeting In Bali

Ag provisions included in WTO's 'Bali package'

Published on: Dec 10, 2013

World Trade Organization members on Saturday agreed to adopt multilateral agreements on several agricultural provisions following difficult negotiating sessions in Bali, Indonesia.

WTO members ultimately returned draft decisions on a package of issues designed to streamline trade, allow developing countries more options for providing food security, boost least developed countries’ trade and help development, a WTO announcement said.

U.S. Grains Council Director of Trade Policy Floyd Gaibler, who attended the meetings, said that one of the provisions, an interim food security program, will allow countries with existing food stockholding programs to continue to operate those programs even if they exceed or will result in exceeding their allowable domestic subsidies for an interim period until a final agreement is reached.

Ag provisions included in WTOs Bali package
Ag provisions included in WTO's 'Bali package'

"While the agreement sets a target for reaching a final solution in four years at the 11th WTO Ministerial, it is not a binding duration," Gaibler said.

Though the agreement requires strong transparency and safeguard provisions, including protections to ensure that the operation of food stockholding programs will not distort trade or food security of other countries, Gaibler said

"Importantly, countries will be allowed to participate in the work program to ensure that the transparency and safeguard provisions are met, and they will have input in development of a permanent solution," he said.

An agreement was also reached on provisions that will improve the administration of tariff rate quotas and reconfirm the commitment to complete elimination of export subsidies and reductions in export guarantee programs that were agreed to at the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial.

Though all issues were not ironed out, Gaibler said the 9th Ministerial agreement "provides a pathway for broader post-Doha multilateral negotiations.

"These will encompass the remaining agricultural pillars—domestic subsidies and market access—that have been delayed since the suspension of the Doha negotiations in 2008," he said.

For more, on the WTO proceedings, click here.