WTO Ministerial Provides Pathway to Post-Doha Round

Members of the World Trade Organization have agreed to adopt multilateral agreements on efforts to reduce barriers at borders as well as several agricultural provisions. U.S. Grains Council Director of Trade Policy Floyd Gaibler - who was at the WTO Bali Ministerial - says trade facilitation measures that reduce transaction costs and red tape should improve overall trade benefits - including agriculture related products. An agreement was 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. Most importantly - Gaibler says the 9th Ministerial agreement provides a pathway for broader post-Doha multilateral negotiations. He says 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.

WTO members also established an interim food security program that will allow countries with existing food stockholding programs to continue to operate those existing programs even if they exceed or will result in exceeding their allowable domestic subsidies for an interim period until a final agreement is reached. While the agreement sets a target for reaching a final solution in four years at the 11th WTO Ministerial - Gaibler says it's not a binding duration. He says the agreement does require 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. According to Gaibler - 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.

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