WTO members propose reforming farm sector support

Domestic support seen as a priority by WTO members
calendar icon 22 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Three new negotiating submissions have highlighted the importance of reform to the WTO's rulebook on domestic support to agriculture, as talks intensify ahead of the organisation's ministerial conference next February, and a senior officials meeting scheduled for 23-24 October, according to a recent news release from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Domestic support is widely seen by WTO members as a priority in the negotiations, because of its impact on the ability of producers to compete fairly in global markets.

The new submissions included two that had been prepared by groups of countries — the African Group and the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting economies — and one by Costa Rica. They analyse the support that is provided to the sector, including its impact on trade and markets. Costa Rica and the African Group also put forward ideas on how WTO members should limit its adverse effects in the future.

On another topic, a new submission from the African Group reiterated the group’s previous call for a “special safeguard mechanism” that would enable developing economies to raise tariffs temporarily in the event of a sudden import surge or fall in food prices.

"It's clear that urgent action is needed on all the issues before us if we're to ensure that markets for food and agriculture play their part in contributing to a more food secure future for all of us," said Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy (Türkiye), the chair of the WTO negotiating body on agriculture, at a meeting open to all WTO members on 18 July.

At a separate meeting of the WTO's regular Committee on Agriculture on 27-28 June, Secretariat staff told trade officials that time series data on WTO members' notified domestic support is gradually being made available via the online AG-IMS web page – with data on some categories of support already accessible via a tab allowing users to "search notified information".

WTO members also discussed a counter-notification concerning India’s market price support for rice and wheat.

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