Buenos Aires, Miercoles, 7 de Junio
12 abril, 2021 19:27 Imprimir

OMC – Siguen dominando los debates sobre el comercio de productos agropecuarios


Las preocupaciones con respecto a la repercusión de la pandemia de COVID-19 en el comercio de productos agropecuarios y las políticas agropecuarias han seguido dominando la labor del Comité de Agricultura de la OMC en su reunión celebrada los días 29 y 30 de marzo. Se formularon preguntas con respecto a 30 nuevas políticas de apoyo a la agricultura y relacionadas con el comercio adoptadas por los Miembros y el Comité volvió a abordar 32 cuestiones planteadas anteriormente. Asimismo, los Miembros siguieron vigilando la aplicación de las decisiones ministeriales en lo que respecta a la utilización de los contingentes arancelarios, la constitución de existencias públicas y las políticas de competencia de las exportaciones.

COVID-19 and agriculture

The chair of the committee, Maria Araceli Escandor (Philippines), noted that COVID-19 has severely impacted all spheres of life, including global food and agriculture systems. She said it was important that members engage, be transparent about COVID-19 policy interventions in the agriculture sector, learn from each other and share experiences so as to collectively cope with the challenges.

The following members submitted new or updated reports on COVID-19 measures taken in the agriculture sector:  El Salvador (G/AG/GEN/163/Add.1),  the European Union (G/AG/GEN/159/Add.4), Israel (G/AG/GEN/160/Add.1), Japan (G/AG/GEN/166/Rev.1) and South Africa (G/AG/GEN/180).

Members’ ad hoc reports on agricultural measures related to COVID-19 made in previous meetings have been compiled in a WTO Secretariat document (G/AG/W/209).

Three observers organizations – the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Grains Council (IGC) – made presentations at the meeting (G/AG/GEN/183G/AG/GEN/184G/AG/GEN/181 and G/AG/GEN/182) sharing information about the impact of COVID-19 on global food systems, the situation of global crops’ production and trade as well as the price levels, and suggesting policy actions.

Regular review of members’ agricultural policies

The committee continued to examine members’ agriculture support policies, including those related directly or indirectly to exports. New questions were posed regarding agriculture programmes and policies in Angola, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Chinese Taipei, Tajikistan, Ukraine and the United States.

Thirty-two follow up questions were submitted to the meeting  on specific implementation matters raised previously.  The questions concerned measures adopted by Australia, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, the European Union, Honduras, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Eight  follow-up questions were directed at India, with members questioning  India on its continued restrictions concerning imports of pulses, wheat stockpiling, short-term crop loans, export subsidies to skim milk powder, an export ban on onions, and remission of duties and taxes on exported products.

Canada was once again questioned on its policies for the milk and dairy sector. The focus of current attention is a recent increase in farm gate milk prices and a parliamentary bill prohibiting the federal government from making any commitment in trade agreements that would decrease tariffs or increase tariff rate quotas applicable to dairy products, poultry or eggs. Members also focused on a January announcement by the province of New Brunswick to increase the price of liquid milk.

China was asked how its 2021 rural development plan adopted last December would work in practice, including plans to “improve” the minimum purchase prices for wheat and rice. China was also asked about surging maize imports and the duties being applied to imports under the US-China Phase One deal. In addition, China was asked for details on a recently-announced plan to increase the minimum support price for wheat and soybeans as a means to increase production of these crops.

The European Union was asked how its new “Trade Policy Review – An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy” will be implemented in line with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.

The EU was further questioned about France’s new strategy to increase production of vegetable proteins and the increase in French soybean production. Also raised was a charter signed by France’s top ten supermarket groups requiring visible mentions of the French origin of goods on supermarket shelves and spaces reserved for local products.

The EU was also asked about infringement procedures launched by the European Commission regarding a decree in Bulgaria requiring chains to sell local foodstuffs as well as a proposed amendment to a food law in the Czech Republic requiring the majority  of selected products in large stores to be Czech-made.

Several questions were asked about India’s new 10% tariff on imported cotton and the impact this may have on cotton producers and exporters outside of India. India was also questioned on its increase in minimum support prices for cotton and record government purchases of cotton.

India was also asked about reported plans to significantly increase domestic oilseed production and cut vegetable oil imports by USD 10 billion a year. Questions were also raised regarding a reported USD 626 million interest subvention grant to help India divest excess sugar production for ethanol, and a decision by the Indian government approving sugar export subsidies for marketing year 2020/21 of USD 475.8 million to export 6 million metric tonnes of sugar. India was asked to explain how these new subsidies were in line with paragraph 11 of the Nairobi Decision requiring members to ensure that any export subsidies have at most minimal trade distorting effects.

Russia was questioned about six new measures affecting trade in farm goods. These included support for exports of high value-added agricultural products, export duties and taxes on grains, sunflower seeds and soya beans, and a new decree that establishes a subsidy to compensate flour producers for the purchase of milling wheat.

Several members reacted to the United Kingdom’s new draft schedule spelling out the amount of domestic support (aggregate measure of support, or AMS) it plans to reserve for its farmers. They also expressed concerns regarding the market access the UK has proposed to apply to its 142 bound tariff rate quota (TRQ) commitments post-Brexit, including the immediate issue of  access under those quotas with respect to the Northern Ireland market.

Several members asked the United States about the USD 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes more than USD 10 billion for agriculture and USD 12 billion for nutrition programmes. The US was asked to explain more in detail how these measures will support the farming industry and how the US intends to notify this domestic support, in particular whether any support measures will be notified as “green box” or “blue box” support.

The committee also reviewed notifications by members covering various policy domains, including TRQ commitments and agricultural subsidization. India’s invocation of the Bali public stockholding peace clause last year, the first by a developing member since the adoption of the Decision in 2013, was also subject to continued scrutiny by members.

All questions submitted for this meeting are available in document G/AG/W/210. Replies received are available on the WTO’s Agriculture Information Management System (AG IMS).

Follow-up to ministerial decisions

The monitoring of the 2013 Bali Decision on TRQ Administration was discussed as a follow up on the recommendations approved by the General Council in 2019 following a review of the implementation of the decision.

The discussion principally focused on the future operation of paragraph 4 of the underfill mechanism, with the key issue being how to deal with the situation where a developing importing member in the last stage of the mechanism does not achieve the required increase in the fill rate while either retaining the current TRQ administration method or using an alternative administration method. The agreed timeline to reach an agreement on the future operation of paragraph 4 is the end of 2021. Members remained divided on whether they might be willing to accept another extension in the event of no agreement.

Fuente: OMC



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