ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — While achieving progress in multilateral trade negotiations among World Trade Organization (WTO) members is often frustrating, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) sees some steps in the right direction in the recent agreement at the WTO Nairobi Ministerial meeting held in mid-December — despite some setbacks, USW said.
USW is particularly pleased to see the elimination of export subsidies, which rank high among the most trade-distorting forms of support. The agreement immediately eliminates such subsidies for developed countries and calls for a phase-out for developing countries. Though the world’s largest traditional user of agricultural export subsidies ? the E.U. ? has moved away from the subsidies, agreeing to eliminate them is no small matter.
USW said it welcomes the recognition in Nairobi that the U.S. can keep offering food aid and development programs without change, which underpins this country’s leadership in the world. Wheat produced by U.S. farmers is a cornerstone grain for food aid that is affordable, nutritious and fits monetization projects that encourage in-country development, USW said.
The Nairobi agreement also addressed export credit and financing rules that reflect reforms the U.S. has already made. USW said there should be no further restrictions on the GSM-102 program, which is a reliable and practical financial tool used by several U.S. wheat importing countries.
Despite these gains, USW said it is disappointed that the Ministerial reauthorized the use of transportation, marketing and processing subsidies for agricultural products for developing countries. This exception could provide cover to bad actors who have violated past agreements to the detriment of producers around the world. USW said it will continue working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure developing country members do not abuse this exception.