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AGRICULTURE: WORK IN THE WTO
Committee agrees on how to deal with three implementation issues

The Agriculture Committee on 27 September 2001 agreed on how to deal with three “implementation” issues that are part of the preparation for the Doha Ministerial Conference: export credits and insurance; the decision on net food-importing developing countries; and tariff quotas.

This is part of the response to concerns raised by developing countries about difficulties in implementing the present WTO agreements.

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G/AG/11
28 September 2001
Committee on Agriculture

Committee on Agriculture (regular meetings)
Implementation-related issues

Report to the General Council by the Vice-Chairman

The present report on the outcome of the Committee's consideration of the three implementation-related issues which were referred to the Committee by the General Council is submitted on the responsibility of the Vice-Chairman, Minister Yoichi Suzuki, as agreed by the Committee at its meeting on 27 September 2001.

 
 
A.   Article 10.2 of the agreement on agriculture: the development of internationally agreed disciplines to govern the provision of export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes, taking account of paragraph 4 of the Marrakesh NFIDC decision
 
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1.   The question of the implementation of Article 10.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture was referred to the Committee on Agriculture by the Special Session of the General on 18 October 2000, it being understood that in pursuing their work on export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes account would be taken of the provisions of paragraph 4 of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision. This subject was taken up at the at the regular meetings of the Committee on Agriculture held in November 2000, March, June and September 2001, with progress reports being made to the General Council in documents G/AG/6, G/AG/8 and G/AG/9 and Corr.1). 

2.   As part of the overall results of the Uruguay Round negotiations WTO Members undertook, in terms of Article 10.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture, to work towards the development of internationally agreed disciplines to govern the provision of export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes and, after agreement on such disciplines, to provide export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes only in conformity therewith. In terms of paragraph 4 of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision Ministers agreed to ensure that any agreement relating to agricultural export credits makes appropriate provision for differential treatment in favour of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries. 

3.   Negotiations on a proposed Sector Understanding on Export Credits for Agricultural Products amongst WTO Members which are participants to the OECD Export Credit Arrangement have been ongoing for a number of years. Members involved in these negotiations have informed the Committee that this work has reached an advanced stage, in the form of a proposed text which is acceptable to most but not all of the participants concerned, and which makes provision for differential treatment in favour of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries. At the same time work within the WTO on the question of agricultural export credits has been progressing in both the regular meetings of the Committee on Agriculture and in the Special Session Negotiations under Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture on the basis, inter alia, of the proposals that have been tabled and other inputs, including with respect to special and differential treatment in favour of developing countries.

4.   In the light of their discussions and informal consultations on this matter Members are agreed and recommend that work in the regular meetings of the WTO Committee on Agriculture on the development of disciplines pursuant to Article 10.2 and the related provisions of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision should continue in line with the following general understandings:

(a)   that the focus of the work in the regular Committee meetings would be on the implementation of Article 10.2 and the disciplines foreseen therein, whereas the Special Session negotiations would focus on the proposals tabled or to be tabled on export credit practices;

(b)   that, without prejudice to further work to be undertaken in the regular meetings of the Committee as provided for in subparagraph (i) above, in the event that a Sector Understanding on agricultural export credits is concluded at the OECD, the Committee would, as envisaged in the report of the Committee on Agriculture to the Singapore WTO Ministerial (G/L/131, paragraph 11), consider how any such understanding could be multilateralized within the framework of the Agreement on Agriculture and how the provisions of paragraph 4 of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision have been taken into account; and 

(c)   that the Committee on Agriculture should submit a report to the General Council on this subject following its regular September 2002 meeting.

 
 
B. Examination of Possible Means of Improving the Effectiveness of the Implementation of the Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net-Food-Importing Developing Countries
 
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1.   At its meeting on 15 December 2000 (WT/L/384, paragraph 1.2, refers), the Special Session of the General Council instructed the Committee on Agriculture to examine possible means of improving the effectiveness of the implementation of the Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net-Food-Importing Developing Countries (a copy of the Decision is attached as Annex A). This examination was undertaken in the regular meetings of the Committee on Agriculture as well as through informal consultations. These consultations included an informal roundtable to examine detailed proposals by the net food-importing developing countries for the establishment of a revolving fund, as well as other measures for improving the effectiveness of the implementation of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision (G/AG/W/49 and Add.1 and Corr.1 refer). Specialist representatives of the IMF, the World Bank and the FAO participated in this Roundtable. 

2.   Progress reports were made to the General Council on the Committee's work in this regard at its regular meetings in March and June this year in documents G/AG/7 and G/AG/10 respectively. Copies of these progress reports, which include the detailed proposals referred to above as well as the comments of the IMF and the World Bank on access to their facilities and on the proposed revolving fund, are attached hereto as Annexes B and C. A summary of the Committee's discussion on this subject at its meeting on 27 September will be included in the Secretariat report (G/AG/R/28) on that meeting. 

3.   In the light of the discussions and informal consultations in connection with the Committee's examination of possible means of improving the effectiveness of the implementation of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision, the following recommendations are forwarded for approval by the General Council:

I.   Food Aid (paragraph 3 (i) and (ii) of the Decision)

(a)    that early action be taken within the framework of the Food Aid Convention 1999 (which unless extended, with or without a decision regarding its renegotiation, would expire on 30 June 2002) and of the UN World Food Programme by donors of food aid to review their food aid contributions with a view to better identifying and meeting the food aid needs of least-developed and WTO net food-importing developing countries;

(b) WTO Members which are donors of food aid shall, within the framework of their food aid policies, statutes, programmes and commitments, take appropriate measures aimed at ensuring: (i) that to the maximum extent possible their levels of food aid to developing countries are maintained during periods in which trends in world market prices of basic foodstuffs have been increasing; and (ii) that all food aid to least developed countries is provided in fully grant form and, to the maximum extent possible, to WTO net food-importing developing countries as well.

II.   Technical and Financial Assistance in the Context of Aid Programmes to Improve Agricultural Productivity and Infrastructure (paragraph 3(iii) of the Decision)

(a)   that developed country WTO Members should continue to give full and favourable consideration in the context of their aid programmes to requests for the provision of technical and financial assistance by least-developed and net food-importing developing countries to improve their agricultural productivity and infrastructure; 

(b) that, in support of the priority accorded by least-developed and net food-importing developing countries to the development of their agricultural productivity and infrastructure, the WTO General Council call upon relevant international development organisations, including the World Bank, the FAO, IFAD, the UNDP and the Regional Development Banks to enhance their provision of, and access to, technical and financial assistance to least-developed and net food-importing developing countries, on terms and conditions conducive to the better use of such facilities and resources, in order to improve agricultural productivity and infrastructure in these countries under existing facilities and programmes, as well as under such facilities and programmes as may be introduced.

III.   Financing Normal Levels of Commercial Imports of Basic Foodstuffs (paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Decision)

(a)   that the provisions of paragraph 4 of the Marrakesh Ministerial Decision, which provide for differential treatment in favour of least-developed and WTO net food-importing developing countries, shall be taken fully into account in any agreement to be negotiated on disciplines on agricultural export credits pursuant to Article 10.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture; 

(b)   that an inter-agency panel of financial and commodity experts be established, with the requested participation of the World Bank, the IMF, the FAO, the International Grains Council and the UNCTAD, to explore ways and means for improving access by least-developed and WTO net food-importing developing countries to multilateral programs and facilities to assist with short term difficulties in financing normal levels of commercial imports of basic foodstuffs, as well as the concept and feasibility of the proposal for the establishment of a revolving fund in G/AG/W/49 and Add.1and Corr.1. The detailed terms of reference, drawing on the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision, should be submitted by the Vice-Chairman of the WTO Committee on Agriculture, following consultations with Members, to the General Council for approval by not later than 31 December 2001. The inter-agency panel shall submit its recommendations to the General Council by not later than 30 June 2002.

IV.   Review of Follow-up

(a)    that the Committee on Agriculture shall review and report to the General Council on the follow-up to these recommendations following its regular September 2002 meeting.

 
 
C.   The Submission by Members Administering Tariff Quotas of Addenda to their Notifications to the Committee on Agriculture (Table MA:1) in accordance with the Decision of the General Council in WT/L/384 Regarding the Administration of Tariff Rate Quota Regimes in a Transparent, Equitable and Non-Discriminatory Manner
 
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1.   Paragraph 1.1 of the General Council decision WT/L/384 provides that: "Members shall ensure that their tariff rate quotas regimes (TRQs) are administered in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. In that context , they shall ensure that the notifications they provide to the Committee on Agriculture contain all the relevant information including details on guidelines and procedures on the allotment of TRQs. Members administering TRQs shall submit addenda to their notifications to the Committee on Agriculture (Table MA:1) by the time of the second regular meeting of the Committee in 2001." The understanding was that this decision should not place undue new burdens on developing countries (WT/GC/M/62, paragraph 14, refers).

2.   So far the following Members administering tariff rate quotas have submitted the requisite Table MA:1 Addenda: Australia (G/AG/N/AUS/1/Add.1); Canada (G/AG/N/CAN/2/Add.2, 6/Add.1, 10/Add.1, 19/Add.1); European Communities (G/AG/N/EEC/1/Add.2, 3/Add.1, 14/Add.1, 15/Add.1); Japan (G/AG/N/JPN/1/Add.1, 8/Add.1, 23/Add.2, 57/Add.1); Latvia (G/AG/N/LVA/1/Add.1); New Zealand (G/AG/N/NZL/1/Add.1); Norway (G/AG/N/NOR/1/Add.1); and United States (G/AG/N/USA/2/Add.3 and 34/Add.1).

3.   It is recommended that implementation of the General Council decision in paragraph 1.1 of WT/L/384 be kept under review by the Committee on Agriculture at its regular meetings. 

* * * * * 

As agreed by the Committee at its meeting on 27 September 2001 the General Council is accordingly invited to approve the recommendations in Sections A, B and C of this report.

 
 
Annexes ...

... The texts of the original decision, chairperson's reports to General Council in April and July 2001, and countries' proposals are attached as annexes.

To see them:
> download the full 35-page document in MS Word format (254KB) or pdf format (305KB).

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