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After Bali: WTO rules applying to public food reserves









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    Book (stand-alone)
    Potential conflicts between agricultural trade rules and climate change treaty commitments.
    The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2018: Background paper
    2018
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    Climate change – among its many other challenges – also affects the conditions of competition along the whole food value chain. This article posits that many mitigation and adaptation policies imply a differentiation between otherwise identical products but with different carbon footprints. Where imports are affected, there is a potential for trade frictions. The main issue appears to be a climate-smart treatment of like products with different (non-product-related) production and processing methods (ppm). Now that national governments start implementing their commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, they have to closely look at the trade and investment impact of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The NDCs presently available remain silent on concrete measures involving product differentiation according to footprint differences, be it by way of border adjustment measures, subsidies, prohibitions, or restrictions. The non-discrimination principle enshrined in the multilateral trading system can be a problem for such differentiations. No climate-smart agricultural measures have yet been notified to the World Trade Organization (WTO). But several renewable energy programmes have been found to violate WTO rules. Potential problems could arise, for instance, from differentiating tariffs, import restrictions or taxes according to carbon footprint. Conditions of competition might even be affected by labels signalling products with a bigger (or a “climate-friendly”) footprint, or through subsidies and incentives compensating domestic producers subject to emissions reductions, prohibitions, and input restrictions. A second major problem lies in the way the Paris Agreement and the WTO address the Development Dimension. In the Paris Agreement, the Development Dimension is addressed by the notion of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), leaving Parties free in terms of how they take development into account in their NDCs. On the other side, the Special and Differentiated Treatment (SDT) foreseen in all WTO agreements for developing country products and services appears incapable of dealing with the global impact of all emissions, regardless of their origin, or with the negative impact on developing country exports to climate-smart markets in developed countries. In conclusion, we suggest that a review of the climate-relevant trade and investment rules is necessary at the international level, involving climate, and agriculture and trade regulators, supported by scientific, economic and legal expertise. The purpose of this review is to avoid litigation jeopardising the implementation of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, such a review must be comprehensive, because the objective is to ensure maximum policy space for climate mitigation and adaptation without negatively affecting other countries, or unduly restricting trade and investment, especially in poor developing countries. Last but not least, this intergovernmental and inter-institutional review is urgent, because the results should provide as quickly as possible the legal security necessary for investors and operators, regulators, NDC developments and reviews, and international standard-setting processes.
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    Document
    The Bali Package – implications for trade and food security 2014
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    In December 2013, agreement was reached on a small number of issues under negotiation in the long-running Doha Round of WTO Negotiations. The set of issues, broadly known as the Bali package after the location of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference during which the agreement was reached, comprised three main components, one of which related to the use of public procurement for food stockholding which can be used by developing countries in pursuit of food security objectives. This brief provides a concise explanation of the Bali package focusing on those elements which have direct implications for trade and related policies directed at improved food security. It also considers potential implications of trade and market policies more broadly for food security, drawing on discussions at an FAO side event held on the occasion of the Ministerial Conference. Finally, it suggests a number of avenues for providing support to countries in their negotiation of trade agreements as they relate to food security.
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    Policy brief
    Thirteenth WTO Ministerial Conference: what outcomes for agriculture and fisheries? 2024
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    The 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO (MC13) took place from 26 February to 2 March 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Conference was chaired by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the host country. Agriculture and fisheries subsidies were once more at the centre of the deliberations, but no concrete outcome was possible due to differences and divergence of positions among Members. However, WTO Members adopted a number of important decisions and declarations that are relevant for the two sectors. These included a Ministerial Declaration reaffirming the principles and objectives of the WTO and providing the framework for the continuation of the work in a number of areas, a “Ministerial Decision on dispute settlement reform”, a “Ministerial Decision on work programme on small economies”, a “Ministerial Declaration on strengthening regulatory cooperation to reduce technical barriers to trade”, and a “Ministerial Declaration on the precise, effective and operational implementation of special and differential treatment provisions of the agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade” . Finally, the Ministerial Conference decided that the Comoros and Timor-Leste may accede to the WTO under the terms and conditions set out in their respective protocols of accession. The two countries will formally join the WTO on the thirtieth day following the date on which the protocols have been accepted by their respective domestic constituencies. The accession of these two new members will bring the total number of WTO members to 166.

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