Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb13/07)
27 February 2013
Third World Network
A series of technical meetings envisaged
Published in SUNS #7525 dated 14 February 2013
Geneva, 13 Feb (Kanaga Raja) -- An informal meeting of the Special
Session of the WTO Committee on Agriculture has been called by its
Chair for this Friday, in what is viewed as the first of a series
of technical meetings.
According to trade officials, the purpose of the session on 15 February
is to set out the technical process whereby members examine information
related to the G-33 proposal on public stockholding for food security.
Trade officials said that this session would kick off a series of
technical meetings for members to present their information as well
as pose questions to each other, without affecting their positions
in the negotiations or their rights and obligations in the WTO.
So far, 20 members have replied to a questionnaire on their public
stockholding for food security and domestic food aid programmes, with
more being expected.
According to trade officials, the Chair, Ambassador John Adank of
New Zealand, said that the technical process would serve members'
requests to use the information as background, so that the G-33 proposal
can be understood better.
The G-33 proposal of last November is on some elements of the draft
agriculture modalities text of December 2008 for early agreement to
address food security issues.
The proposal, whose text is drawn from Annex B of the draft modalities,
notes that at the Eighth Ministerial Conference (MC8, held in Geneva
in December 2011), Ministers expressed their readiness, "to advance
negotiations, where progress can be achieved, including focusing on
the elements of the Doha Declaration that allow Members to reach provisional
or definitive agreements based on consensus earlier than the full
conclusion of the single undertaking".
The G-33 said that with a view to advance negotiations so as to achieve
at least some outcomes in agriculture, which lies at the heart of
the Doha Development Agenda, it is proposed to focus on one of the
elements of the Doha Ministerial Declaration (DMD) which is of importance
to developing countries, viz. food security.
The proposal noted that significant progress has already been achieved
in the Doha Round negotiations which recognise the serious concerns
of food security in developing countries.
"This has assumed the character of a global concern in the past
few years with a need for urgent action. Accordingly, it is proposed
that some of the elements in the Revised Draft Modalities for Agriculture
Text (TN/AG/W/4/Rev. 4) relating to food security are taken up for
a decision in accordance with paragraph 47 of the DMD."
Accordingly, without prejudice to the overall conclusion of the Doha
Round negotiations based on the single undertaking and noting that
there are other elements in the Revised Draft Modalities for Agriculture
Text which can also partially address food security, the G-33 said
it has proposed that a decision be taken to include the following
elements of TN/AG/W/4/Rev. 4 as part of the Ministerial Declaration
at the Ninth Ministerial Conference (in Bali this December).
It has proposed amending Annex 2 of the Agreement on Agriculture (which
deals with domestic support and exemption from the reduction commitments).
Firstly, the G-33 has proposed adding a new sub-paragraph (h) to the
existing paragraph 2 of Annex 2 (on general services under government
"(h) policies and services related to farmer settlement, land
reform programmes, rural development and rural livelihood security
in developing country Members, such as provision of infrastructural
services, land rehabilitation, soil conservation and resource management,
drought management and flood control, rural employment programmes,
nutritional food security, issuance of property titles and settlement
programmes, to promote rural development and poverty alleviation."
Secondly, the G-33 has proposed modifying the existing footnote 5
of Annex 2 as follows:
"For the purposes of paragraph 3 of this Annex [on public stockholding
for food security purposes], governmental stockholding programmes
for food security purposes in developing countries whose operation
is transparent and conducted in accordance with officially published
objective criteria or guidelines shall be considered to be in conformity
with the provisions of this paragraph, including programmes under
which stocks of foodstuffs for food security purposes are acquired
and released at administered prices, provided that the difference
between the acquisition price and the external reference price is
accounted for in the AMS. However, acquisition of stocks of foodstuffs
by developing country Members with the objective of supporting low-income
or resource-poor producers shall not be required to be accounted for
in the AMS."
Thirdly, the G-33 has proposed modifying the existing footnote 5&6
of Annex 2 as follows:
"For the purposes of paragraphs 3 and 4 of this Annex [paragraph
4 is on domestic food aid], the acquisition of foodstuffs at subsidised
prices when procured generally from low-income or resource-poor producers
in developing countries with the objective of fighting hunger and
rural poverty, as well as the provision of foodstuffs at subsidised
prices with the objective of meeting food requirements of urban and
rural poor in developing countries on a regular basis at reasonable
prices shall be considered to be in conformity with the provisions
of this paragraph. This is understood to mean, inter alia, that where
such programmes referred to in this footnote and paragraph 4 above,
including those in relation to lowering prices to more reasonable
levels, involve also the arrangements referred to in footnote 5 to
paragraph 3, there is no requirement for the difference between the
acquisition price and the external reference price to be accounted
for in the AMS."