BALI, INDONESIA — The World Trade Organization on Dec. 7 reached agreement on a global trade facilitation agreement that is designed to streamline trade, allow developing countries more options for providing food security, boost least developed countries’ trade and help development more generally.
The latest draft texts, available at https://mc9.wto.org/draft-bali-ministerial-declaration, are the product of weeks of intensive negotiations in Geneva before the ministerial conference. They were further refined after round-the-clock consultations at the conference.
According to a report from the Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington, D.C., U.S., the agreement could result in an extra $960 billion in economic activity and 20.6 million jobs, with 18 million of them in developing countries.
A major sticking point in the negotiations was India’s insistence on allowing “public stockholding for food security purposes.” The agreement gives India and other development countries a four-year exemption from WTO agricultural subsidy rules so they can subsidize poor farmers and stockpile grain for food security.
The agreement includes:
Trade facilitation. Trade facilitation is cutting red tape and streamlining customs and port procedures.
Agriculture. Four issues in agriculture out of a larger set negotiated in the Doha Round, are on the table. They are:
- General services: a proposed list of general services of particular interest to developing countries.
- Developing countries’ public stockholding of food for food security.
- Tariff quota administration: a proposal to deal with the way a specific type of import quota is to be handled when the quota is persistently under-filled.
- Export competition, the collective term for export subsidies and other policies with similar effects.
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