A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

WTO: Special Safeguard Clause for Agriculture and Special Products Under Fire

28 January 2008



The futures of the special safeguard clause for agriculture and the special products program are currently under debate at the World Trade Organization (WTO). For one, negotiations have been heading toward elimination ever since the European Union and the G101 gave in to the demands of the United States and the Cairns Group.2 For the other, resistance from China, India and Indonesia has rekindled the debate.

On January 4, Crawford Falconer, WTO Chair for Agricultural Negotiations, distributed to the 150 delegations eight working documents regarding market access, two of which were related to special products and the special safeguard clause (SSC).

Although the WTO has noted "visible progress" with regard to the likely elimination of the SSC, the fact remains that abolishing a market regulation instrument such as the SSC could be harmful to food security and supply. The SSC for agriculture allows a State to raise its customs duties when import volumes increase significantly or export prices drop significantly, with a view to protecting certain products from significant pressure from foreign competition.

One of Crawford Falconer's suggestions also calls for lower customs duties for special products. China, India and Indonesia believe those duties to be too high and have for the time being rejected this measure. And with good reason, for the special products scheme authorizes them to limit decreases in the customs duties of certain products that are essential to development in those countries.

In both cases, States are seeking to protect certain agricultural products from market deviations above all in order to maintain a certain level of food security.

This goes far in showing that agriculture must not, over the coming weeks, be the adjustable variable of a superficial WTO agreement, for the negotiations now involve a "solid core" of proposals with national security implications such that any ill-considered concessions would have significant, irreversible consequences.

1 The G10 is comprised of net importers of agricultural products: Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Japan, South Korea, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Iceland, Israel, Norway and Mauritius.
2 The Cairns Group brings together 19 agricultural exporting countries: Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guatemala, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Thailand and Uruguay.
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