Serious reform essential to developing country exports and poverty alleviation
Washington DC – Emphasizing the importance of agricultural trade to developing countries, the National Foreign Trade Council today reiterated its calls for substantial liberalization and reform of agricultural trade policies among the developed world as key to a successful outcome of the Doha Development Agenda.
“Wealthy nations continue to spend billions of dollars on development assistance every year – but the benefits of such aid are often offset by high export subsidies, tariffs and other trade distorting policies on agriculture in developed countries,” said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council. “One of the most important things we can do to eliminate poverty and provide meaningful developmental assistance around the world would be to eliminate harmful subsidies and tariffs, especially in the area of sugar. The Doha Agenda presents an enormous opportunity to bring about such change, which in turn is a linchpin to achieving broader market access objectives on goods and services” said Reinsch.”
In underscoring the need to tackle this issue, Reinsch cited a recent Wall Street Journal article stating that agriculture subsidies are a main contributor of poverty in the developing world. The article reported that developed country sugar subsidies, particularly by the EU, have led to an estimated $100 million in lost potential export earnings for South African sugar growers.
“How can we ask developing countries to open up their markets to our goods and services when we are reluctant to do the same for their agricultural products? The $300 billion in overall farm supports among the developed world dwarf the annual $50 billion in official overseas developmental assistance. These polices are at cross purposes and make little sense,” Reinsch said.
The NFTC applauded the recent proposals by the United States calling for substantial elimination and reduction of export subsidies, tariffs and other trade distorting policies on agricultural goods.
“The U.S. proposals are an important step in the right direction and in line with the NFTC’s recommendations for bold liberalization of agricultural trade. At the end of the day, reform on sugar, the standard bearer commodity, will be a key determinate of the ultimate success of global agricultural reform,” Reinsch said.
For a copy of the NFTC’s recommendations for the Doha Round, please visit www.nftc.org.