Grosser ‘status report’ on WTO agriculture negotiations

The sto­ries on progress in the agri­cul­ture negotiations—including my “pre­vi­ous post”:—are based on the hope that the G‑20 paper on mar­ket access pre­sent­ed at Dalian will be a basis for agree­ing on real reform in mar­ket access; an aspect of the reform that the World Bank cal­cu­lates offers more than 90% of the poten­tial gains. But the dif­fer­ences in the posi­tions of gov­ern­ments remain wide: as Chair­man Tim Grosser’s ‘sta­tus report’ on the talks, issued last week reveals The press sto­ries, such as “this from the Finan­cial Times”: reporter in Dalian, are hedged. Per­haps because the writ­ers are, under­stand­ably, not sure whom to believe. Tim Gross­er, the out­go­ing Chair­man of the Agri­cul­ture nego­ti­at­ing group issued a ‘sta­tus report’ last week that reflects a much more sober­ing view of the lack of cur­rent agree­ment in most areas of the agri­cul­ture nego­ti­a­tions. And the WTO web­site is still head­lin­ing the assess­ment of it’s Direc­tor Gen­er­al that the Doha round as a whole is ’ ”in seri­ous trouble”:’. If the prospect of read­ing the Gross­er ‘sta­tus report’ seems too much (and I, for one, could­n’t blame you for feel­ing that way), I’ve includ­ed below my own sum­ma­ry of what the Chair­man said.


h2>Summary: Chair­man’s ‘Sta­tus Report’ Pur­pose: to get some more ‘guid­ance’ from WTO mem­bers on out­stand­ing issues before attempt­ing to pro­duce his ‘approx­i­ma­tion’ of a result for the end of July. 

Domestic support

  1. Gen­er­al

    1. Mem­bers seem agreed that they want for­mu­las that cut high lev­els of trade dis­tort­ing sup­port with­out focussing in the first place on ‘scor­ing a polit­i­cal point’ by ‘har­mo­niz­ing’ the high­est and low­er lev­els. But those devel­oped coun­tries with very high lev­els must be ready to make a (larg­er?) con­tri­bu­tion to an agreed reduc­tion.

  2. Trade dis­tort­ing

    1. Final Bound AMS

    • [Recall: The most impor­tant pro­vi­sion on domes­tic sup­port in the ‘Frame­work’ from last July is a two-part, ‘belts and braces’ approach to cut­ting trade dis­tort­ing sup­port. It requires a for­mu­la for cut­ting the final bound lev­els of AMS reached in the imple­men­ta­tion of the Uruguay Round Agree­ment on Agri­cul­ture and it requires a for­mu­la for cut­ting the ‘over­all lev­el’ of trade dis­tort­ing sup­port (there is also a 20% ‘down­pay­ment’ on this cut). The ‘over­all lev­el’ com­pris­es the final bound AMS, the ‘de min­imis’ lev­els of sup­port and the ‘blue box’.]
    • Since more than 80% of all AMS is ‘owned’ by USA, EC and Japan, the key prac­ti­cal ques­tion is: “In what tier do their AMS lev­els fall” assum­ing that there are 3 or 4 tiers in the for­mu­la for cut­ting AMS
    • EC (US$59.8 bil­lion), the US (US$19.1 bil­lion) and Japan (US$35.9 bil­lion)
    • Oth­er issues about the for­mu­la will flow from this deci­sion
    • Includ­ing where to place the AMS of the 17 devel­op­ing coun­tries that accept­ed AMS oblig­a­tions in 1995

    1. Over­all reduc­tion in trade dis­tort­ing sup­port

    • Again: where should the two or three tier ‘thresh­olds’ be set?
    • What should be done about cuts in the sup­port lev­els of the major­i­ty of devel­op­ing coun­tries that do not have AMS oblig­a­tions?
    • Dis­cus­sion of sep­a­rate cuts in de min­imis sup­port and tighter ‘blue box’ cri­te­ria post­poned until after Sep­tem­ber

  1. Green Box

    1. Gross­er calls for guid­ance on some ‘devel­op­ment friend­ly’ cri­te­ria that could be used to assure devel­op­ing coun­tries that the ‘Green box’ will be avail­able for them in the devel­op­ment of their agri­cul­tur­al sec­tors. He appears to give less weight to the con­cerns of many that the ‘Green box’ is being used as a cir­cum­ven­tion mea­sure (and there­fore needs to be tight­ened).

Export competition

  1. The ‘struc­ture’ and the ‘end point’ of the cuts is already agreed (pro­gres­sive elim­i­na­tion based on end-points of the UR sched­ules)
  2. Ques­tions to be left for after Sep­tem­ber

    1. How to estab­lish par­al­lel com­mit­ments for elim­i­na­tion of sub­si­dies in export cred­its, STEs and Food Aid
    2. What dis­ci­plines should apply to export cred­its of less than 180 days
    3. Iden­ti­fy­ing a cred­i­ble ‘end date’ for elim­i­na­tion
    4. Use of monop­oly pow­ers’ by STEs
    5. Def­i­n­i­tion of the enti­ties to be cov­ered by the STE’s pro­vi­sions

  1. Deci­sions need­ed for 31 July

    1. STEs: Gov­ern­ment financ­ing and under­writ­ing of STE loss­es (to be iden­ti­fied as an export sub­sidy)
    2. Food aid: (In view of pro­pos­als from EU, India and oth­ers that would ‘fun­da­men­tal­ly change’ the food aid sys­tem to pre­vent food aid being used for ‘com­mer­cial displacement&#8217)a deci­sion pro­tect­ing the use of food aid in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions with oth­er issues, includ­ing mon­eti­sa­tion of food dona­tions, to be left until Sep­tem­ber

Market Access

  1. [Gross­er says that this is the ‘most com­plex and least advanced’ of the three pil­lars. His report calls for deci­sions on the fun­da­men­tal issues; there is no focus on fin­er detail as there is in the oth­er pil­lars with the objec­tive of get­ting at least par­tial agree­ment]
  2. Deci­sions need­ed on ‘at least basic struc­tur­al issues’ by end of July

    1. Tiers and for­mu­la

    • Unlike­ly to agree on num­ber of tiers or thresh­olds until there is agree­ment on the nature of for­mu­las with­in the tiers
    • Must agree, there­fore, by 31 July on

      • Num­ber of tiers
      • Thresh­olds of each tier
      • Descrip­tion of for­mu­las with­in tiers (not num­bers?). Gross­er does not iden­ti­fy any of the options.

    1. Must agree in par­al­lel on the nature of con­ces­sions for ‘sen­si­tive’ and ‘spe­cial’ prod­ucts


Par­al­lel action is need­ed on the domes­tic sup­port, export com­pe­ti­tion and mar­ket access issues as they apply to the ‘trade track’ of the ini­tia­tive on cot­ton.

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