OMC – Los negociadores encargados de la agricultura trazan el camino hacia la CM12



Los negociadores de la OMC encargados de la agricultura se reunieron el 21 de marzo para examinar la forma de avanzar hasta la Duodécima Conferencia Ministerial (CM12), prevista para la semana del 13 de junio. La Presidenta del grupo de negociación sobre la agricultura, Embajadora Gloria Abraham Peralta (Costa Rica), señaló la repercusión que el conflicto en Ucrania tenía en los mercados mundiales de alimentos y en el entorno de las negociaciones sobre la agricultura. Pidió a los Miembros que se prepararan para unas negociaciones intensivas y aprovecharan bien el tiempo restante a fin de lograr resultados pragmáticos y significativos en la CM12.

Review the negotiation format and substance

The chair reported on her recent consultations with WTO members. With the clarity provided by the new dates for MC12, and bearing in mind the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, she asked members to reassess the format and substance of the negotiations in preparation for the work ahead.

“Preserving a well-functioning rules-based multilateral trading system and finding ways to make a meaningful contribution to agriculture and food security is more important than ever,” said the chair.

Members reaffirmed their commitment to multilateral agricultural trade reform and the need to make the system function.

Several members highlighted the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the negotiation process as well as the resulting threats to food security. Some members also highlighted the importance of transparency, called for food markets to be kept open, and urged members to refrain from imposing export restrictions.

Delegations acknowledged the unprecedented challenges to global food security and stressed the need to deliver a comprehensive outcome on agriculture at MC12 that would place food security at the forefront. Many reiterated their clear support for a multilateral decision as soon as possible to waive food purchases by the World Food Programme (WFP) from any export restriction.

Domestic support to the farm sector remains a high priority for the membership, and many trade officials renewed calls for addressing trade-distorting domestic support. A few members also assigned priority to making progress in market access, and the Cotton-4 asked for a more ambitious outcome on cotton.

Many members supported pursuing talks on the basis of the chair’s draft negotiation text from November 2021 (TN/AG/50). In their view, this text is not perfect but offers a balanced and realistic starting point which reflects the efforts and hard work undertaken to date. Meanwhile, other members continued to ask the chair to revise the text to take on board the proposals from the G33 group of developing members and the African Group.

With regard to the meeting format, most members welcomed the chair’s suggestion that members conduct meetings in various configurations tailored to their needs on different topics. They also agreed that technical work will continue when necessary.

Public stockholding and food security

WTO members also continued talks aimed at agreeing a “permanent solution” to the problems some developing countries say they face under WTO rules when buying food at administered prices as part of their public stockholding programmes for food security purposes (PSH). At the dedicated session on this topic, Canada introduced  a joint submission with Australia, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Paraguay, the United States and Uruguay (JOB/AG/210/Rev.1). The submission compiles all available information on members’ public stockpiling programmes since 2001.

The co-sponsors said the submission aims to facilitate an evidence-based and informed negotiation. The paper pointed to the lack of transparency and the need to improve notifications, they said. The co-sponsors also suggested re-using the questionnaire used before the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference so that members can acquire critical information on PSH programmes such as product coverage and procurement prices.

Some food-importing developing members took the floor to share specific food security concerns related to recent price spikes and supply chain disruptions. They reminded members of the negotiating mandate for PSH and called for a permanent solution at MC12.

PSH proponents (the G33, the African Group and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group) said they invited non-proponents for bilateral consultations starting from 1 March to hear their concerns. Meanwhile, non-proponents asked the G33 and the African Group to share their forthcoming new proposal (merging the existing proposals from the two groups) in a timely fashion when this becomes available.

Special safeguard mechanism (SSM)

Negotiations continued on a proposed new “special safeguard mechanism” that would allow developing countries to raise tariffs temporarily in the event of a sudden surge in import volumes or a price depression.  At the dedicated session on this topic, some proponents suggested including an interim SSM in the chair’s draft negotiation text.

Agricultural exporting members again asserted the linkage between SSM and market access and questioned the feasibility of any substantive outcome on SSM, even on an interim basis, in the absence of parallel progress on market access.

The chair indicated her intention to continue the consultations and encouraged more technical discussions to break the deadlock.

Next steps

The chair said she will prepare a process for the coming weeks based on the views of members. Extensive consultations on different topics in conjunction with necessary technical work are foreseen. Developing countries’ urgent needs for food security will be well attended to in the future negotiation plan, she said, noting members’ support for an event on the theme of food security tentatively scheduled for the end of April.

The chair urged members to submit new proposals as soon as possible to shape the negotiations and make good use of the little time remaining before MC12.

Fuente: OMC