Draft ministerial documents on agriculture, May 31, 2022

WTO

Posted by Peter Ungphakorn
JUNE 8, 2022 | UPDATED JULY 14, 2022

UPDATE

The drafts submitted to ministers on June 10, 2022 are slightly different but the main drifts are the same, with a number of objectives set for the next Ministerial Conference (MC13). The final part of the World Food Programme exemption refers to “provisions of the WTO agreements” instead of “WTO disciplines”.

Agriculture decision: WT/MIN(22)/W/19 (not agreed)
Food security declaration: WT/MIN(22)/W/17 (final, agreed WT/MIN(22)/28)
World Food Programme exemption: WT/MIN(22)/W/18 (final, agreed WT/MIN(22)/29)

At the end of May 2022, three texts on agriculture were circulated unofficially to World Trade Organization members by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (who chairs the Trade Negotiations Committee) and the chair of the agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Gloria Abraham Peralta of Costa Rica.

All three texts are below. They can be compared with the previous versions from November 2021:

In a cover note, the two chairs said they had worked with key delegations for two weeks on the texts and were ready to share them for the full membership to consider in preparation for the June 12–15 Ministerial Conference.

The drafts on agriculture and the World Food Programme exemption are generally stripped down when compared with the November 2021 versions (full text of that version starts here).

The drafts were expected to evolve further has members continued to work on them. These versions are an indication of where the final documents might be heading.

ABBREVIATIONS
AoA — (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture
CoA — Committee on Agriculture
CoA-SS — Agriculture negotiations (Committee on Agriculture in Special Session)
FAO — UN Food and Agriculture Organization
MC12 — 12th WTO Ministerial Conference
MC13 — 13th WTO Ministerial Conference
MFN — non-discrimination between trading partners (most-favoured-nation treatment)
PSH — (domestic support in) public stockholding for food security purposes (in developing countries)
SSM — special safeguard mechanism
WFP — World Food Programme

(Hyperlinks and abbreviation flyouts added)


Aerial photo of a team of harvesters
“Substantial progressive reductions”: the negotiations’ objective | James Baltz, Unsplash licence

31 May 2022

DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECISION ON AGRICULTURE

The Ministerial Conference,

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

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 (AoA);

Recognizing the role that a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system could play in supporting progress towards the targets set out under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture and food systems, and strengthen the policy response to climate change through both mitigation and adaptation actions;

Taking note of the achievements in the negotiations to date, as well as the need to make further progress in order to fulfil existing mandates relevant to the agriculture negotiations, including as set out in Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) as well as the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Decisions.

Decides as follows:

1.             We commit to continue our negotiations with a view to reducing support and protection progressively and substantially in achieving meaningful reform. We reaffirm that special and differential treatment for developing countries is an integral part of all elements of the negotiations. Particular consideration shall be given to the needs of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries. Non-trade concerns, including food security and the protection of the environment shall also be taken into account in these negotiations.

2.            We resolve to intensify our negotiations on the topics listed below, with a view to achieving modalities in relevant areas and other outcomes by the Thirteenth Session of the Ministerial Conference (MC13). We undertake to work towards achieving a Permanent Solution on Public Stocking for Food Security Purposes (PSH) by MC13. These negotiations shall build on progress made thus far in the negotiations under the auspices of the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture (CoA SS), including in dedicated sessions, and Members’ existing and future submissions, including technical discussions informed by relevant data.

See previous version’s introduction and draft preamble

Domestic Support 

3.             We undertake to continue comprehensive negotiations on domestic support after MC12, in particular, to reduce substantially trade-distorting domestic support and to improve disciplines, within a reasonable timeframe to be agreed by Members, in accordance with the reform programme provided for in Article 20 of the AoA and the modalities that will be agreed and adopted by MC13.

4.            Unless otherwise provided, all Members will be expected to contribute to the outcomes of these negotiations according to the modalities to be agreed by Members. In this respect, we reaffirm that special and differential treatment of developing country Members is an integral part of these negotiations and due account shall be taken of the needs of low-income or resource-poor farmers. The non-trade concerns of Members shall also be taken into account in these negotiations.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes (PSH)

5.            Recalling the Ministerial Decision of 7 December 2013 (WT/MIN(13)/38 – WT/L/913), the General Council Decision of 27 November 2014 (WT/L/939) and the Ministerial Decision of 21 December 2015 (WT/MIN(15)/44 – WT/L/979), and recognizing the importance attached to public stockholding programmes for food security purposes by some developing country Members, including least developed and net food importing developing countries and mindful of the food security of other Members, we undertake to continue our negotiations and make all concerted efforts to agree to a permanent solution to the PSH issue by MC13.

6.            These comprehensive negotiations shall consider relevant elements including the review of the external reference price of relevant products,1  programme and product coverage, limits on Public Stockholding programmes, transparency and safeguards/anti-circumvention, and legal certainty.

1 This issue would be considered more broadly in the context of current AoA disciplines

7.            The negotiations would continue to be held in dedicated sessions of the CoA-SS. Periodic progress reports on the negotiations to achieve a permanent solution will be provided by the CoA-SS Chair to the General Council in between the 12th and the 13th sessions of the Ministerial Conference.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Market Access

8.            We undertake to continue negotiations on market access after MC12 with a view to improving substantially and progressively agricultural market access opportunities for all Members within a timeframe to be agreed by Members, in accordance with the reform programme provided for in Article 20 of the AoA.

9.            We agree to work towards achieving tangible progress in the negotiations by MC13. Technical discussions on relevant market access elements shall support these negotiations, as necessary, to facilitate an informed participation by all Members.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) 

10.          We undertake to continue negotiations on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing country Members in dedicated sessions of the CoA-SS pursuant to the Nairobi Ministerial Decision (WT/MIN(15)/43 – WT/L/978).

11.           We agree to engage in enhanced technical discussions on all elements necessary for designing an SSM for developing countries as envisaged under paragraph 7 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration. Technical elements of the existing Special Agricultural Safeguard instrument in Article 5 of the AoA and the experience gained in its implementation since 1995 may also be taken into account.

12.          The General Council shall regularly review progress in these negotiations with the aim of making recommendations for the consideration of Ministers at MC13.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Export Restrictions

13.           We undertake to continue negotiations after MC12 with the aim of enhancing transparency and predictability of export prohibitions and restrictions and improving relevant disciplines. To this end, and bearing in mind Article 12.2, we are committed to work towards reviewing and clarifying Article 12 of the AoA by MC13, including the provisions pertaining to: (i) the requirement that Members give due consideration to the effects of their measures on importing Members’ food security; (ii) Members’ practices regarding advance written notices; and (iii) transparency requirements for measures of a longer duration.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Export Competition

14.          We reaffirm our commitment to ensure an effective implementation and monitoring of the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Export Competition (WT/MIN(15)/45– WT/L/980) and undertake to continue negotiations after MC12 particularly building on the evidence amassed during the review undertaken in the Committee on Agriculture (CoA), in order to enhance disciplines on export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes, agricultural exporting state trading enterprises and international food aid, with a view to making tangible progress in these negotiations by MC13. These disciplines shall aim at ensuring that there is no circumvention of the relevant disciplines which undermines export subsidy elimination commitments and to prevent non-commercial transactions from being used to circumvent such commitments. Special consideration shall be given to the needs and circumstances of least-developed and net food importing developing countries.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Cotton

15.          We undertake to continue negotiations after MC12 with a view to reducing trade-distorting domestic support for cotton in accordance with modalities to be agreed by MC13 and in line with the mandate to address it ambitiously, expeditiously, and specifically within the agriculture negotiations taking into account progress made in the overall domestic support negotiations.

16.          We undertake to continue holding Dedicated Discussions on cotton on a bi-annual basis, as mandated by paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of the Bali Ministerial Decision on Cotton (WT/MIN(13)/41 – WT/L/916) and confirmed in paragraph 14 of the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Cotton (WT/MIN(15)/46 – WT/L/981).

17.          We note that the development related aspects of cotton are addressed under the Director-General’s Consultative Framework Mechanism on Cotton and welcome the work undertaken in this context, which will continue to be handled as provided for in paragraph 12 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(05)/DEC) and in paragraphs 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Cotton.

See previous draft (November 2021)

Transparency

18.          We note the importance of the implementation of existing notification obligations under Article 18 of the AoA. We agree to work in the CoA to review, update and streamline as necessary through an evidence-based process the transparency provisions contained in document G/AG/2 as well as other agriculture-related transparency requirements. Due consideration shall be given to the capacity constraints faced by some developing countries, especially the least developed among them.

19.          We agree to make the necessary efforts to provide outstanding domestic support notifications prioritizing as from the year 2010 to enhance transparency with respect to existing domestic support commitments, while taking into account the different capacities of developing country Members, especially the least-developed among them. We agree to explore options for facilitating the submission of the required information in DS:1 notifications by Members in a timely manner and consider including necessary elements such as value of production data.

20.          We request the WTO Secretariat to maintain and update on a regular basis a domestic support analytical tool based on Members’ notifications as well as publicly available official information in consultation with relevant Members.

21.          We agree to the continuation of discussions on enhancing transparency, including in the application of changes to MFN applied ordinary tariff rates to provide greater certainty and predictability to businesses and traders, especially those who have shipments en route during such changes in applied tariffs in the destination markets.

22.          We invite the WTO Secretariat to pursue efforts to assist developing country Members, upon their request, to comply with the relevant notification and other relevant transparency and monitoring requirements, including through ad hoc advice, technical assistance and capacity-building support. We request the Secretariat to provide information on a regular basis to the CoA on these activities.

See previous draft (November 2021)


Sacks of pulses and other food in Vietnam
Concerned: declaration aims to tackle food insecurity | “v2osk”, Unsplash

(The official final document is here)

31 May 2022

DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION ON TRADE AND FOOD SECURITY

Concerned that trade disruptions, record prices and excessive volatility for food and agricultural products could undermine food security in all Members, particularly in least-developed and net food-importing developing countries, who by virtue of their fiscal and other capacity-related challenges, as well as deteriorating terms of trade, are disproportionately affected by the crisis;

Concerned also that rising prices of food, agricultural products, and production inputs, including fertilizers, and associated trade restrictions, as well as increasing energy and transportation costs, could have lasting consequences for global food security in the coming years;

Determined to make progress towards the achievement of a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system, ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems, in fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goal 2 of the United Nations, taking into account the interests of small-scale food producers;

Acknowledging that progress towards this Goal has been undermined, with the FAO and the WFP in particular estimating a significant increase in the number and share of undernourished and food insecure people;

1.            We, the Ministers, have met in Geneva from 12 to 15 June 2022 at our Twelfth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, and have adopted this declaration on trade and food security.

2.            We agree that trade along with domestic production, contributes positively to improving global food security in all its dimensions and to enhanced nutrition. 

3.            We commit to take concrete steps to facilitate trade and improve the functioning and long-term resilience of global markets for food, agriculture, fertilizers, and other agriculture production inputs. Particular consideration will be given to the specific needs and circumstances of developing country Members, especially those of least-developed and net food-importing developing countries.

4.            We underscore the need for agri-food trade to flow, and reaffirm the importance of not imposing export prohibitions or restrictions other than those stipulated in relevant WTO provisions.

5.            We will endeavour to ensure that any emergency measures introduced to mitigate food security concerns shall minimise trade distortions as far as possible; be temporary, targeted, and proportionate; and be notified in accordance with the relevant WTO rules. Members imposing such measures should take into account their possible impact on other Members, particularly least-developed and net food-importing developing countries.

6.            We resolve to cooperate with a view to ensuring enhanced productivity, trade, availability and accessibility and affordability of food for those who need it, especially in humanitarian emergencies.

7.            We reaffirm the provisions of the Nairobi Decision on Export Competition, including especially those on International Food Aid, and encourage donor countries to undertake efforts to make food available to poor and vulnerable countries, including through the WFP.

8.            We reaffirm the importance of effective implementation and monitoring of the Marrakech Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries. In that regard, we request the Committee on Agriculture to examine how the implementation of this Decision could be made more effective and operational pursuant to Article 16 of the Agreement on Agriculture.

9.            We recognize that adequate food stocks can contribute to the realization of Members’ domestic food security objectives. We encourage Members with available surplus stocks to release them on international markets consistently with WTO rules.

10.          We emphasize the importance of promptly sharing relevant information about policies that may affect trade and markets for food and agriculture, including by complying with WTO notification commitments and by actively participating in other relevant mechanisms for information exchange. We invite the Secretariat to provide regular updates on trade and market developments in the wake of the current food price spikes, in cooperation with other relevant international organizations.

11.          We acknowledge the positive role of the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) in enhancing agricultural market transparency and policy responses for food security. 

12.          With these considerations in mind, we reaffirm our commitment to intensify the agriculture negotiations in all areas in accordance with the Ministerial Decision on Agriculture we have adopted at this Session. 


WFP workers in flooded Bangladesh
“Members shall not”: no export restrictions on World Food Programme purchases | Sayed Asif Mahmud, CC-by-4.0

(The official final document is here)

31 May 2022

DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECISION ON WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME FOOD PURCHASES EXEMPTION FROM EXPORT PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS

The Ministerial Conference,

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

Pursuant to Article 12 of the Agreement on Agriculture and Article XI of the GATT 1994;

In view of the critical humanitarian support provided by the World Food Programme, made more urgent as global hunger levels have increased sharply;

With the understanding that the World Food Programme always takes procurement decisions on the basis of its principles to “do no harm” to the supplying Member and promote local and regional food procurement;

Decides as follows:

1.            Members shall not impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme.

2.            This Decision shall not be construed to prevent the adoption by any Member of measures to ensure its domestic food security in accordance with relevant WTO disciplines.


Updates:
July 14, 2022 — adding links to the official final documents
June 24, 2022 — adding links to the previous version of the agriculture text from November 2021
June 10, 2022 — adding the update box at the top, with links to the texts submitted to ministers

Image credits:
Harvesters | James Baltz, Unspalsh licence
Food sacks in Vietnam | “v2osk”, Unspalsh licence
WFP workers in Bangladesh | Sayed Asif Mahmud, CC BY-SA 4.0

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