Since the WTO’s Nairobi ministerial conference in 2015, numerous negotiating proposals and other submissions have highlighted the importance of addressing trade-distorting support in agriculture, and in particular the concentration of support on particular products (ICTSD, 2018). However, although ministers in Nairobi declared their “strong commitment” to advancing work on agricultural domestic support, differences between members on this and other topics meant that no consensus outcome or road- map for future work was agreed at the Buenos Aires ministerial conference in 2017. The chair of the WTO negotiating body on agriculture, Guyanan ambassador J.R. “Deep” Ford, is currently consulting with members on this and six other areas with a view to advancing the negotiations (WTO 2018).
African negotiators at the WTO have long argued in favour of updating global rules on domestic support, primarily through their participation in negotiating coalitions such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group or the C-4 group (comprised of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) which has led calls for action on cotton. The group of Least-Developed Countries (LDCs), which includes numerous African countries, has also put forward negotiating submissions, including on the topic of agricultural domestic support.
This policy brief seeks to examine available evidence regarding the implications for Africa of trade-distorting support for specific farm goods, in the context of projected market trends facing the continent in the decade ahead. It finds that World Trade Organization members could usefully seek to fast-track action in this area in order to help achieve progress on Sustainable Development Goal 2.
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