Jan 12, 2008

Encouraging News From WTO Agriculture Discussions

Reports coming out of Geneva are suggesting that some good progress has been made in narrowing differences on agriculture. The Chair of these agriculture talks, Crawford Falconer, has agreed to prepare a new text on the way forward and circulate this on 21 January. This is potentially great news for New Zealand as, apart from a couple of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand would gain most from the successful conclusion of these negotiations.

Unfortunately agriculture is no longer the most contentious area of these negotiations. Negotiations have been breaking down more because of concerns in the non-agricultural market access area. And there it is not just a north-south divide causing problems. Brazil, Argentina etc are not just concerned about lowering barriers to imports from the US, EU and Japan. China is the new "threat" to the industrial model of these large developing economies. Lets hope that the Chair of this aspect of the negotiations makes as much progress as his agriculture counterpart.