2. Domestic support in July 2021 draft agriculture negotiations text

The draft aims for decisions at the November 30–December 3, 2021 ministerial conference (“MC12”)

See also
New agriculture draft suggests nervousness in divided WTO

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By Peter Ungphakorn

Note: the official July 29, 2021 draft text for the WTO agriculture negotiations is here with a minor correction here. Links to all sections are here.

This page combines the two sections of the text on domestic support, the chair’s assessment, and her draft


2.1.         The Domestic Support pillar has been at the heart of the agricultural negotiations since their commencement in 2000. Numerous submissions have been made on this subject by Members, including very recently, emphasizing the shared objective of addressing trade-distorting domestic support (TDDS). It is also the area where, for both developed and developing Members, the expectations for an outcome at MC12 are the highest. Indeed, an outcome on domestic support is long overdue. Many calls have been made to strengthen the existing disciplines on TDDS while at the same time leaving sufficient policy space for Members to pursue legitimate policy objectives such as food security, supporting small scale and resource-poor farmers, and fostering a resilient agricultural sector. Addressing TDDS is also needed to ensure a level playing field and equitable trade, and to avoid costly competition between treasuries.

2.2.         Taking into account the limited time before MC12 and the persistent differences in how to discipline TDDS, my view continues to be that a substantive outcome at MC12 whereby Members would agree on concrete modalities for the reduction of TDDS entitlements appears to be out of reach. After having listened carefully to Members’ views, I have not detected any fundamental change in Members’ positions that would make me think otherwise. However, I continue to believe that MC12 can deliver a useful intermediary step forward in the DS reform process that would define the path ahead for the benefit of all Members. I also believe that it is our collective duty to make every effort to find a way forward in this important area. The different proposals suggesting concrete ideas for substantive outcomes could be useful for the next phase when the details of modalities will be discussed.

2.3.         The aim of the text is therefore to encourage Members to meet one another midway, bearing in mind the common objective of disciplining TDDS. The text is not static, and it is expected to evolve with Members contributing ideas and making suggestions for its improvement. In that sense, it should be seen as a platform on which Members can mount and work towards an outcome at MC12 and beyond. It proposes some alternatives to provide a more malleable basis for finding consensus in this important area, building on Members’ ideas, submissions2, the Facilitators’ report3 and my own consultations.

2 These include JOB/AG/102, JOB/AG/112, JOB/AG/137, JOB/AG/172, JOB/AG/177/Rev.2, JOB/AG/182, JOB/AG/199, JOB/AG/203, and JOB/AG/206.
3 JOB/AG/201.

Compare with newer November 2021 text


The Ministerial Conference,

Having regard to paragraph 1 of Article IX of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization;

Recalling the long-term objective to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system and to provide for substantial progressive reductions in agricultural support and protection sustained over an agreed period of time, resulting in correcting and preventing restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets as stated in the Preamble of the Agreement on Agriculture;

Decides as follows:

Members agree on the following principles for the negotiation of new disciplines on Domestic Support:

1.             Members commit to capping and reducing the sum of current global agricultural trade- and production-distorting domestic support entitlements by at least half by 2030 [alternatively: Members commit to a substantial reduction of trade- and production-distorting domestic support entitlements] according to modalities to be negotiated.

2.            To this end, these negotiations shall take into consideration all forms of trade- and production- distorting domestic support under Article 6 of the Agreement on Agriculture [taking into account the different potential of each category to distort production and trade]. [Developing countries shall be accorded special and differential treatment, including for domestic support provided by them to low income or resource poor farmers under Article 6.2.] [Members agree to address AMS above de minimis entitlements with the aim of reducing subsidy concentration and to level the playing field.]

3.             The contributions by individual Members in these reductions will need to be proportionate to the size of those Members’ current entitlements and their potential impact on global markets, taking into account the individual circumstances and development needs of Members, [to ensure the global target is reached by 2030].

4.            LDCs will not be required to undertake any new reduction commitments.

5.            Members note the importance of the implementation of existing notification obligations under Article 18 of the Agreement on Agriculture and undertake to make the necessary efforts to provide all outstanding DS:1 notifications to enhance transparency with respect to existing domestic support commitments. [Members undertake to provide the value of production data as part of their DS:1 notifications.]

6.            [Members shall consider reviewing and clarifying Annex 2 criteria and related transparency requirements, where necessary, to ensure that relevant domestic support measures have no, or at most minimal trade-distorting effects or effects on production.]

7.            [Members also commit to simplifying and updating the current transparency requirements in G/AG/2, taking due account of the capacity constraints of some Members.]

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Updates: None so far
Image credit: Background aerial shot of farmland | Julian Ebert, Unsplash, CCO

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