WTO Member Nations Prepare for More Agriculture Talks

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, DC

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Another major global meeting is approaching. For those in agriculture, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 12th Ministerial conference (MC12) is the stage where negotiations are at “a critical juncture,” says the Chair of the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session, Ambassador Gloria Abraham Peralta (Costa Rica).

The Chair told members that she was “very encouraged” by the spirit of compromise that negotiators had shown in the talks so far and that the progress made towards outcomes was “extremely valuable.” She did, however, warn that gaps remain and that it was up to the trade officials to find ways to bridge their notable differences.

As for what remains unresolved today, she provided seven topics in the negotiations — domestic support, market access, export restriction, export competition, cotton, public stockholding for food security purposes, and the special safeguard mechanism, as well as the cross-cutting issue of transparency.

She also identified several unresolved issues where essential gaps remain between negotiators’ positions after the latest round of consultations.

Finally, the Chair noted in her report the need to narrow gaps on other topics, including the critical question of trade-distorting domestic support for cotton.

Cotton has long been a central focus of the WTO. In 2002, Brazil initiated a WTO dispute settlement case against the U.S. on the issue of unfair subsidies for domestically-grown cotton. The United States lost the case but settled with Brazil in 2014, agreeing to change support programs for growers and eliminating export credit guarantees.
(SOURCE: All Ag News)

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