African Ministers of Trade have called on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to eliminate all forms of agricultural export subsidies.That, they said, should be done by abiding by the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and the Bali Ministerial Decision which gave utmost consideration to prioritise these issues for the post-Bali work programme.
The trade ministers made the call in an eight-page communiqué after the 9th African Union Conference of Trade Ministers that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from December 4 to December 5, this year.
With specific reference to WTO issues on agriculture, the ministers restated their call for the “correction of the systemic imbalances on agriculture through which distortions in the global markets continue to undermine Africa’s potential economic gains encapsulated in Africa’s comparative advantage.”
It stressed that agriculture remained central to Africa’s agenda at the WTO. “We, therefore, emphasise the urgency to enhance market access to support value addition, job creation and overall development of the agriculture sector in Africa,” the trade ministers said, in the communique.
They reaffirmed the importance of food security to African countries and reiterated the need to achieve that on the continent.
The communiqué said: “We support efforts by Net-Food Importing Developing Countries (NFIDCs) in respect of agriculture- related rule-making in the WTO, and in this regard underscore the urgent need to a full implementation of the Marrakech NFIDC Decision in order to deliver improved food security and agricultural productivity in NFIDCs and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).”
The trade ministers further reaffirmed the need to “strengthen the disciplines of the Green Box to ensure that measures notified under the Green Box comply with basic criteria and to introduce necessary elements on the Green Box to reflect the particular circumstances of developing country members in order to address the current imbalances in the Agreement on Agriculture.”
They took note of the General Council’s decision on public stockholding for food security purposes and recalled the communication of the African Group which, they demanded, should guide the negotiations on the permanent solution.
The trade ministers stressed the need for the cotton issue to be a priority in the post-Bali negotiations in accordance with the Hong Kong ministerial mandate and Bali Ministerial Decision, and on the basis of the revised draft modalities on agriculture.
Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA)
The trade ministers said the development dimensions of the NAMA negotiations must be central during the Bali negotiations.
NAMA modalities 2008 incorporate the principle of Less than Full Reciprocity and the flexibilities for the developing countries and LDCs, which must be the basis for NAMA negotiation, taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances of African States.
They said the outcome of the NAMA negotiations must support Africa’s industrial development, economic diversification and structural transformation agenda.
On services, the trade ministers reaffirmed that the negotiating process must remain multilateral, fully transparent and focused on a bottom-up approach. “Pluri-lateral negotiations cannot substitute for an inclusive multilateral process,” they said.
To them the outcomes of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), in respect of all present and future WTO agreements, should include financial and technical assistance and sustainable sectorial capacity-building measures.