WTO: Agriculture Draft Punts to Ministers


The chair for the Doha agriculture trade negotiations Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye Friday issued a draft text for the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference, providing options for ministers to decide on domestic support and the permanent solution for public stockholding programs for food security, our correspondent has learned.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala set Friday as the deadline for chairs to submit draft texts in advance of MC13, which will start on February 26 in Abu Dhabi.  Texts were still be refined as of Friday evening.

The six-page draft text on agriculture, seen by our correspondent, says in the first paragraph: “Members reaffirm their commitment to continue the agriculture negotiations in accordance with the reform objective of Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and subsequent Ministerial and other Decisions on agriculture. Members shall accordingly make all concerted efforts towards achieving tangible progress and balanced outcomes in the negotiations by the Fourteenth Session (MC14). [Members hereby agree and adopt a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes.]”

Domestic Support

As regards domestic support, the chair proposed two options in an either-or framework. The first option seeks to intensify negotiations on all forms of domestic support fairly and equitably with modalities to be agreed upon at the 14th ministerial meeting in Cameroon. The second option in domestic support calls for adopting modalities under Article 20 at Abu Dhabi.

The proposal on domestic support could cause a huge divide at Abu Dhabi with several countries like China, the European Union and the Group of 10 farm defensive countries led by Switzerland cautioned during the discussions on Friday about any mention of modalities in the Dispute Settlement text, said people familiar with the discussions.


On PSH, the draft text provides two options: the first option seeks to conclude a permanent solution on public stockholding programs in Abu Dhabi, while the second option calls for discussing food security and related issues, including extending PSH programs to least-developed countries and net food-importing developing countries like Egypt.

Market Access

Strangely, the chair did not provide any options in market access, where the United States and Paraguay sought parity in the level of ambition between domestic support and market access.

The MA negotiations, in paragraph eleven in the draft text, calls on Members to “commit to pursue and intensify negotiations on agricultural market access with a view to reducing substantially and progressively protection in a fair and equitable manner to improve market access opportunities for all Members and improving disciplines in accordance with the reform objective in the AoA and within a reasonable timeframe to be agreed by Members. [Modalities shall be agreed and a decision adopted by MC14.] / [Members agree to work towards achieving modalities by MC14.]


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