DP2437 | Agriculture, Developing Countries, And The WTO Millennium Round

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Publication Date

28/04/2000

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Abstract

The potential welfare gains from further liberalizing agricultural markets are huge, both absolutely and relative to gains from liberalizing textiles or other manufacturing, according to recent GTAP modelling results. Should attempts to liberalize farm trade in the next WTO round follow the same pattern as the Uruguay Round, or might a more radical approach be required to bring agriculture more into the WTO mainstream? The question is explored from the viewpoint of developing countries by focusing especially on the Uruguay Round's dirty tariffication and adoption of tariff rate quotas. The paper also examines new agricultural issues, notably food safety and agriculture's so-called multifunctionality: both were the subject of contention in Seattle in late 1999, and both have important implications for developing countries' trade. Options facing developing countries are explored in the paper's final section. The prospective new millennium round offers the best opportunity yet for developing countries to be pro-active in seeking faster reform of farm (and textile) trade by OECD countries. In return the developing countries will need to offer to open their own economies more. Fortuitously, that too is in the economic interests of rural people in poor countries.