On 7 June 2017, the WTO announced that WTO members held their annual review of export subsidies and other export support policies at the Committee on Agriculture meeting on 7 June. They also exchanged information on each other’s farm policies. Canada’s dairy policies and India’s wheat stocks attracted much attention from members. The announcement stated that:
The Committee’s review of agricultural export policies is part of the monitoring of how the Nairobi decision on farm export subsidies is being implemented. Members decided at the December 2015 Ministerial Conference in Nairobi to eliminate agricultural export subsidies — widely seen as an unfair trade practice that distorts trade and undermines food production in vulnerable countries — and to strengthen rules on other forms of export support.
The WTO Secretariat circulated a new, revised background document G/AG/W/125/Rev.6 with its four addenda on export subsidies, export finance, international food aid and agricultural exporting state trading enterprises (STEs). The Cairns group of agricultural exporting nations and the Russian Federation circulated document G/AG/W/164 analysing the information on export support policies. It noted that this was the first annual review based on members’ reporting for 2016, i.e. the beginning of the Committee’s assessment of members’ implementation of the Nairobi Ministerial Decision.
Among the 18 members (1) that have scheduled export subsidy commitments as a result of the Uruguay Round, two members — New Zealand and Panama – have already phased out their export subsidies. Australia was the first member that submitted an amended schedule to the WTO to give up its export subsidy entitlement effective as of 22 May 2017. Several members provided updates on the steps being undertaken domestically to prepare for the modification of their schedules of commitments The European Union, Israel and Norway indicated that they expected to notify their revised export subsidies schedules before the end of 2017.
Members exchanged information on other aspects of export competition disciplines – export financing support, agriculture exporting STEs, and international food aid.
On export financing support, “just under half of the programmes reported have repayment terms that exceed the 18 months maximum repayment period established in the MC10 decision,” the paper by the Cairns group and Russia noted, while “sixteen members notified or reported agriculture exporting STEs covering a wide range of products”.
The Chair of the Committee, Mr Alf Vederhus of Norway, noted that members still need to beef up their efforts to share information. “I urge members, developed and developing ones in a position to do so, to make all possible efforts to provide in an accurate and timely manner, and when possible improve, the information provided to inform this dedicated discussion on export competition”, he said.
Members also exchanged information on their farm policy practices. The questions and answers to each query can be found in the Agriculture Information Management System.