The European Commission welcomes today’s significant breakthrough in the agricultural chapter of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Meeting in Paris, trade ministers from 30 members of the World Trade Organisation gave their broad backing to a formula for unblocking discussions on market access for agricultural products. The breakthrough followed a European Union proposal for a new formula for calculating so-called AVEs (Ad Valorem Equivalents), the basis on which reductions in import tariffs will be calculated. This will inject new momentum into the agricultural discussions in Geneva and increases the chances of a successful outcome of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December.
“I am delighted that our initiative was able to unblock what had become a very sensitive debate,” said Marian Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “It is proof of our good faith and willingness to look for imaginative solutions to move the negotiations forward. It has allowed us to inject new momentum into the agriculture talks. Throughout this process, my interest has been to kick-start the talks, while at the same time safeguarding the legitimate interests of European farmers. We must now move on rapidly and drive forward all three parts of the agriculture talks. With the CAP reform we expect others to move in parallel. This is not about market access alone. Domestic support and export subsidies must now be addressed, the EU having taken the lead. And let’s not forget that the DDA is about more than just agriculture. We need movement from all sides on all issues.”
Today’s mini-ministerial meeting of the WTO followed an earlier meeting of the so-called Five Interested Parties (EU, US, Australia, Brazil and India), which is dedicated to agricultural issues. The FIPs approved a formula based on a Commission proposal for a new method to convert import tariffs into Ad Valorem Equivalents. These will form the basis of later calculations to cut import tariffs as part of a planned global trade deal. The formula then gained widespread support/was endorsed at the mini-ministerial.
The formula will be used as a basis for further work in Geneva. The Commission proposed building on this to achieve further progress not only on agricultural market access, but also on domestic support and export competition.