If the EU this year implemented the WTO Doha Development Agenda commitments on agriculture (halve tariffs, eliminate export support and halve domestic support) would sub-Saharan African countries benefit? Answers should describe each ‘pillar’ of the agriculture proposals and distinguish impacts on different types of SSA Countries.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) instituted the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in September 2001 in an effort to stimulate agricultural trade (Martin, 2008). It laid out a variety of commitments for member countries relating to the three goals, or pillars, specified in the Doha Ministerial declaration, which established the DDA (Martin, 2008). These pillars involve diminishing export subsidies, proliferating market access and altering domestic support (Martin, 2008). Particular emphasis is placed on developing countries and the issue of agriculture
An initial deadline for attaining these goals was set for 2003; these deadlines were missed (Martin, 2008). Member countries established a new framework on 1 August 2004, with an eye for meeting those standards by the end of 2005 (Martin, 2008). With little success, member countries opted to suspend negotiations in 2006, eventually drafting modalities in 2008 and negotiations still continue (Martin, 2008).
There are potential gains for all types of countries, developed and developing, from the current proposals of the Doha Agenda (Kirkpatrick, 2006). Kirkpatrick (2006) points out that these gains or benefits will be dependent on the countries ‘product profile’ e.g. whether they are importers or exporters and on the countries “… competitiveness of domestic producers and their ability to respond to the change in incentives,” (Kirkpatrick, 2006). Therefore the benefits will not be evenly distributed, as some countries particularly in SSA may be constrained from various factors in expanding their export sector and may suffer from preference erosion in the more liberalised world. The chart below shows a graphical interpretation as to how the benefits would be dispersed in regards to country income level (Anderson K. M, 2006):
Of these, trade reform benefits afforded by the DDA, over 25 per cent would be seen in the area of Agriculture (Anderson K. M, 2006). The relative impact will result in $45.6 billion to $76 billion of gains for developing countries (USTR, 2008), and an additional $4.3 billion to SSA per annum (Anderson K. M, 2006). Furthermore various studies have found that low-income developing countries such as SSA countries will suffer little or no gain due to the adverse affects of the agreements on these countries (Kirkpatrick, 2006).
The three pillars are more than simply the basis of the DDA (Hanrahan, 2005). They were developed as a framework for negotiating agricultural trade and general liberalisation (Hanrahan, 2005). They are the bases for commitment timelines, the specific formulas used to calculate the obligation due to member countries, and the basic parameters or modalities on which the agenda is based (Hanrahan, 2005).