GDAE’s Timothy A. Wise and Jeronim Capaldo wrote the following op-ed for Al Jazeera, based on Wise’s work on the WTO’s conflict over food security (see articles here, here, here, and here) and Capaldo’s work on the exaggerated gains from trade facilitation (see articles here and here). See GDAE’s other work on the WTO.
Timothy A. Wise and Jeronim Capaldo
The General Council of the World Trade Organization begins a two-day meeting in Geneva today, with India and other developing countries threatening to block implementation of an agreement on trade facilitation. They would be justified in doing so.
The potential gains from that agreement, reached last December in Bali, Indonesia, are vastly overstated, and they flow primarily to rich countries and private sector traders. Meanwhile, the United States and other developed countries have made little effort to resolve the legitimate demands that developing country food security programs be exempted from archaic stipulations of the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).
India has threatened to withhold its support for trade facilitation, which would effectively scuttle the deal in the WTO’s consensus-based process. The Indian government charges that there has been no serious movement on a re-tabled proposal from the so-called G-33 group of developing countries (which now includes 46 nations) to renegotiate parts of the WTO’s agreement on agriculture so that government efforts to buy and distribute food to the poor are not treated as illegal agricultural subsidies.