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Promoting an Open and Equitable Global Food System

IPCPosition Paper

Doha and Beyond: Continuing the Reform of the International Trade System for Food and Agricultural Products

by Tim Josling and Charlotte Hebebrand

June 2011

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Summary

Given the sensitivities over agricultural liberalization, a multilateral approach – which offers countries trade-offs outside of agriculture – has always been considered crucial for further reforms in the international food and agricultural trade system. In this paper, IPC adds its voice to those who continue to argue that a successfully concluded Round will bring enormous benefits, both in economic terms, but also in systemic terms – the GATT/WTO system should be strengthened and not weakened in these turbulent times. The Doha Round provides for a further set of important advances in agricultural reform: it paves the way for an elimination of export subsidies and for a significant reduction of trade distorting support. In the market access arena, IPC shares concerns that provisions on sensitive and special products lessen the impact of the tariff reductions, but we emphasize that they do not negate the progress that such cuts would represent. There is another important reason to conclude the Doha Round: it would free WTO members up to consider a host of food and agricultural policy issues that require serious analysis and deliberation. These range from exploring the ramifications for trade disciplines of possibly higher and more volatile prices, to making more progress on food standard related issues, improving compliance in the realm of monitoring, seriously engaging on how preferential trade agreements deal with agriculture, and starting the difficult but necessary process of greater differentiation among developing countries. The international community will be better equipped to tackle these pressing issues if it can successfully wrap up the current agricultural negotiations.  

Related:

November 2009 (Position Paper)

          November 2009 (Policy Focus)

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