Committee on Agriculture - Summary report of the meeting held on 4 March 2015 - Note by the Secretariat
作者:WTO Secretariat

SUMMARY report OF THE MEETING HELD ON 4 march 2015

Note by the Secretariat[1]

The Committee on Agriculture held its seventy-sixth (76th) regular meeting on 4 March 2015 under the Chairmanship of Mrs Miriam Chaves from Argentina.


The agenda of the meeting as set out in WTO/AIR/AG/2 was adopted with the following modifications:


·                Part 1 (Review Process):

·        Addition of questions from Australia with respect to Indonesia's regulation on importation of meat; and

·        Addition of questions from the European Union with respect to the Angola's Joint Executive Decree on import regulation.

1  THE Review process

1.1  Matters relevant to the implementation of commitments under the Reform Programme: Article 18.6

1.1.1  Trends in domestic support

1.1.  Canada introduced a Cairns Group paper on trends in domestic support.[2] The document was an updated and revised version of the work Canada had presented during the March and June 2014 informal meetings of the Committee on Agriculture and included new data based on recent notifications from the United States of America, the European Union, Brazil, India and the Russian Federation. The objective of the paper was to compile and summarize information from Table DS:1 notifications with a view to presenting it in a more accessible format. Many Cairns group members had found this to be a useful exercise as it had allowed them to take a step back from the review of individual notifications and make some observations about the evolution of domestic support within and across Members over the last decade. Canada hoped that this would help to enrich the review process and strengthen Members' collective understanding of the broader policy context in which this Committee operated. Canada also emphasized that the intention was not to present conclusions based on the data, but rather to provide a common factual basis for Members to conduct their own analysis and draw their own conclusions. Canada and the other cosponsors recognized that these conclusions would likely differ significantly from one Member to another.

1.2.  As noted in footnotes to the paper, several Cairns Group Members, Argentina, Indonesia and the Philippines, did not support the document or were unable to co-sponsor the paper at the time of the meeting. They raised concerns that the document presented a distorted picture of the relative importance of domestic support of developed and developing country Members. Argentina stated that the new document overlooked the fact that developed country Members that had been subsidizing their agricultural production for decades remained the major subsidizers. For these Members total domestic support represented a larger proportion of agricultural value of production than for most developing country Members. Regarding Green Box expenditure, Argentina and the Philippines further noted that the document showed that developed country Members had shifted their support from Amber Box to Green Box in significant amounts and that this amount of support was unlikely to have only minimally distorting effects. Argentina stressed that the use of the Green Box by developing country Members focused on assisting large rural populations, developing poor rural infrastructure and addressing food security. The Philippines noted that the paper did not cover all the countries that provided support above de minimis levels and excluded data from major exporters of important commodities, such as rice.

1.3.  Other Members, including Bolivia, India, and China also expressed concern about the balance of the presentation of the factual data and its analysis. India and China emphasized the importance of differentiating livelihood concerns from commercial interests. For some developed country Members the value of agricultural exports represented a substantial, and growing, proportion of their agricultural value of production. In contrast, for some developing countries highlighted in the document, domestic consumption represented a larger proportion of value of production than agricultural exports and the support was provided to small farmers rather than to large commercialized farmers. Illustrating this point, India presented figures on Members' domestic support provided per person economically active in the agriculture sector, as well as figures of agricultural exports as a percentage of agricultural value of production.

1.4.  Other Cairns Group Members, Paraguay, Uruguay, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia, supported the statement by Canada. Paraguay and Uruguay noted that the presence of trade distorting domestic support, regardless of who was providing the support, meant that small economies had to make greater efforts in order to benefit from the international trading system. Pakistan suggested exploring further improvements to the paper, including looking at in-depth policy dimensions and product specific subsidies provided by the largest exporters. New Zealand added that the significant reductions in current total Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) were encouraging, but that examples of increases in both Amber and Green box support demonstrated the importance of the WTO reform process.

1.5.  The United States of America emphasized that the usefulness of this discussion would be improved if all relevant factual information was presented. The United States of America noted that the Cairns group country-specific graphics and total graphics were not analogous. While the total support figures included all forms of support, the country-specific graphs had omitted de minimis support and thus understated the total support provided by Members. The United States of America recommended that all types of support should be included in the country tables and presented updated tables containing additional information on expenditures falling within the de minimis levels.

1.6.  Mexico, Brazil and the European Union welcomed the US presentation. Mexico was of the view that subsidies, irrespective of who provided them, would have trade distorting effects. Brazil noted that the charts presented by the United States of America were at different scales which provided a distorted comparative perspective.

1.7.  New Zealand, the United States of America, and the European Union stressed the importance of Members making complete and timely notifications. For the European Union, it was important to ensure updated data was available to Members in the context of the ongoing negotiations in all fora leading up to the work programme and the Ministerial conference in Nairobi.

1.8.  Canada and Australia noted that many Members had presented information that extended some of the analysis and requested those Members to share the data and calculations that supported their statements.

1.1.2  Specific implementation-related issues

1.9.  The 17 specific implementation-related issues raised as well as the responses provided and follow‑up exchanges are compiled in section 1 of document G/AG/W/142. These relate to:

a.      Angola's Joint Executive Decree on import regulation (raised by the European Union);

b.     Brazil's domestic support programmes (raised by the United States of America);

c.      Canada's tariff-rate quota for cheese (raised by New Zealand);

d.     Canada's dairy policies (raised by the United States of America);

e.     China's cotton domestic support (raised by the United States of America);

f.       Costa Rica's compliance with AMS commitments (raised by the United States of America);

g.     India's cotton policies (raised by the United States of America);

h.     India's sugar export subsidies (raised by Australia, Colombia and the European Union);

i.        India's exports of cereals and rice (raised by the European Union);

j.       Indonesia's regulation on importation of meat (raised by Australia);

k.      Pakistan's wheat export subsidies (raised by Australia and the European Union);

l.        Russian Federation's agricultural support for 2015 (raised by the United States of America);

m.   Russian Federation's grain exports (raised by the European Union);

n.     Thailand's sugar policies (raised by Australia, Brazil and the European Union);

o.     Thailand's paddy pledging scheme (raised by the United States of America);

p.     Turkey's destination of wheat flour sale (raised by the United States of America);

q.     U.S. Export Credit Guarantee Programme (raised by Australia).

1.2  Review of Notifications

1.10.  The Chairperson informed Members that since the November 2014 meeting the Committee had received 52 notifications which had been distributed electronically to all delegations.

1.2.1  Notifications in respect of which questions have been raised in advance of the issuance of the convening airgram

1.11.  Section 2 of document G/AG/W/142 reflects the questions raised, responses provided, and Members' follow-up comments in connection with the 20 notifications on which questions had been raised in advance of the issuance of the convening airgram.[3]

1.2.2  Notifications subject to review in respect of which no questions have been raised in advance of the issuance of the convening airgram

1.12.  The Committee took note of the 35 notifications circulated before 20 February 2015, including notifications carried over from the November 2014 meeting but in respect of which no questions had been raised by that date under the Committee's working procedures.[4]

1.2.3  Notifications circulated or made available after the issuance of the convening airgram

1.13.  Nine notifications had been circulated after the issuance of the convening airgram on 20 February 2015:

Implementation of market access opportunities: tariff and other quota commitments (Table MA:1):

·                Switzerland (2015): G/AG/N/CHE/13/Add.17

Special Safeguard: price-based (Table MA:4)

·                Barbados: G/AG/N/BRB/22

Annual summary of Special Safeguard actions taken (Table MA:5):

·                Barbados (2003-2009): G/AG/N/BRB/21

Domestic Support Commitments (Table DS:1):

·                Canada (2012): G/AG/N/CAN/104

·                Costa Rica (Revision, 2013): G/AG/N/CRI/48/Rev.1

·                Paraguay (2012-2013): G/AG/N/PRY/23

·                South Africa (2011-2013): G/AG/N/ZAF/83

New or modified domestic support measures exempt from reduction (Table DS:2)

·                Canada: G/AG/N/CAN/105

Export Subsidy Commitments (Table ES:1-ES:3):

·                Dominican Republic (2013-2014): G/AG/N/DOM/24

1.14.  These notifications would be reverted to for substantive review during the next regular meeting, in accordance with paragraph 9 of the working procedures.

1.2.4  Points concerning notifications raised at previous meetings which have been pursued bilaterally: information regarding outcome where the issue involved is one of general interest

1.15.  There were no requests for the floor under this agenda item.

1.2.5  Counter-notifications (Article 18.7 of the Agreement on Agriculture)

1.16.  There were no requests for the floor under this agenda item.

1.2.6  Deferred replies to questions raised under the review process

1.17.  The Chairperson noted that a total of 16 delegations had outstanding replies in the context of the review process. The Chairperson strongly advised them to submit the replies to the Secretariat in order to enhance the efficiency of the review process. The United States of America provided response to Russian Federation's questions at the November 2014 meeting regarding its domestic support notification G/AG/N/USA/93.[5] India indicated that they would soon submit replies to Brazil's questions raised at the last Committee meeting concerning its domestic support notifications G/AG/N/IND/10 and G/AG/N/IND/10/Corr.1.[6]

1.2.7  Overdue notifications

1.18.  The Committee took note of document G/AG/GEN/86/Rev.20 dated 20 February 2015 reflecting the current status of Members' compliance with notification obligations.

1.19.  The Chairperson highlighted a few numbers with respect to the outstanding notifications. For the period 1995 to 2013:

·                11% (73) of notifications in the MA:2 series;

·                12% (73) of notifications in the MA:5 series;

·                38% (736) of notifications in the DS:1 series;

·                36% (802) of notifications in the ES:1 series; and

·                12% (59) of notifications in the ES:2 series remain outstanding.

1.20.  The Chairperson stated that, in response to the request by the Committee in September 2013, the Secretariat had updated the documentation guide on the "Improvement of the Submission of Notifications".[7] The updated guide now covered relevant documents circulated before 20 February 2015.

1.21.  Two questions were raised under this agenda item by the United States of America to China and Turkey respectively. The questions, corresponding answers and Members' follow-up comments can be found in section 3 of document G/AG/W/142.

1.22.  The Chairperson stressed the importance of transparency given the important systemic benefits it provided and called on all Members to fulfil their notification obligations in a timely manner.

2  Other Matters within the Purview of the Committee

2.1  Implementation-related issues

2.1.  The Chairperson noted that the situation had not changed since the circulation of the 2003 and 2006 reports to the General Council.[8]

2.2.  Argentina stated that without prejudice to the provisions of Article 10.1 of the Agreement on Agriculture, the establishment of additional and specific disciplines on export credits, export credit guarantees and insurance programmes remained an outstanding implementation issue resulting from the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. Argentina requested that this item be retained on the agenda of the Committee on Agriculture.

2.2  WTO list of net food-importing developing countries (NFIDCs) (G/AG/3 and G/AG/5/Rev.10)

2.3.  The Chairperson recalled that within the framework of the Marrakesh Decision, and pursuant to the Decision of the Committee (G/AG/3), the Committee was required to review the list NFIDCs, including on the basis of specific requests from Members for inclusion into the list. The Chairperson noted that the Committee has not received any demands from Members to be added to the list since March 2012. Therefore, the list contained in document G/AG/5/Rev.10 remained unchanged.

2.3  Implementation of Bali outcomes

2.4.  As regards the implementation of the Bali Ministerial Declaration on export competition, the Chairperson reminded the Committee that the second annual dedicated discussion would take place during the June meeting. The Chairperson stated that the Secretariat would update in advance of the meeting its background document[9] on export competition covering information contained in relevant notifications and replies to the questionnaire on export subsidies, export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes, international food aid and agricultural exporting state trading enterprises.

2.5.  The Chairperson recalled that the questionnaire was circulated on 26 November 2014 along with a summary of suggestions received on how to increase the number and improve the overall quality of replies to the questionnaire. The responses to the questionnaire were due by 20 March and by the date of this Committee meeting eight replies had been received from Members.

2.6.  Reiterating that the comprehensive and updated information from Members was a critical element of the examination process put in place according to the Bali Ministerial Declaration on export competition, the Chairperson invited Members to make all possible efforts to send their replies to the questionnaire and their notifications by the 20 March deadline.

2.7.  One Member emphasized the urgency and importance of eliminating all forms of export subsidies given the Bali Ministerial decision and the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial declaration on export competition.

2.8.  Regarding TRQ administration, the Chairperson recalled that in November 2014, in order to encourage a consistent notification approach, the Chairperson had suggested that in future notifications Members use an additional column to provide the relevant TRQ fill rate data administration. The Chairperson reported that the Secretariat had circulated an example of a notification which included an additional column for fill rate information[10] and some Members had already started to report fill rates using the proposed format.

2.9.   The Chairperson also recalled that the annex of the Bali decision on TRQ administration included the underfill mechanism that Members had not yet initiated. The Chairperson reminded Members that that they may raise concerns under this mechanism both when importing Members did not notify fill rates and when the fill rate notified was below 65%. Consequently the Chairperson encouraged all Members to notify TRQ fill rates in a timely manner.

2.4  Chair's report on informal consultations

2.10.  The Chairperson reported on the informal meeting held on 3 March 2015. Members discussed a paper submitted by Japan entitled "Work on improving the implementation of notifications on export restrictions – Definition of foodstuffs".[11]

2.11.  The paper introduced points for discussion concerning the definition of "foodstuffs" in the context of Article 12 of the Agreement on Agriculture. It summarized the discussions on food stuffs in the Committee and provided an overview of how different products have been notified under Article 12. Japan posed several questions for discussion to clarify what would be the relevant set of products covered by the notification provisions included in Article 12 of the Agreement.

2.12.  Many Members welcomed the papers' objective of enhancing the transparency of export restrictions and supported Japan's efforts in this area. Many Members considered that the scope of the notification provisions under Article 12 should be those products covered in Annex 1 of the Agreement. Some Members cautioned that work on this issue should not lead to unintentional limitations on the scope of the coverage of Article 12. Others noted that work in this area should avoid changing the balance of rights and obligations under the Agreement since the Committee was not mandated to amend or interpret the rules. Japan indicated that they intended to submit a paper on timing of export restriction notifications in the future. The Chairperson encouraged Members to continue exchanges on this topic and on any other topic under the scope of the Agreement on Agriculture to seek improvements in transparency.

2.5  Other Business

2.5.1  Secretariat briefing on Technical Assistance

2.13.  The Secretariat informed the Committee that the next workshop on agriculture notifications would take place on 9 to 12 June 2015.[12] The invitation would be circulated by the end of March 2015. The purpose of the workshop would be to provide specialized training to capital-based officials who were involved in notification preparations. Similar to previous events, three days would be devoted to lectures and hands-on practices and on the last day participants would meet one-on-one with the Secretariat on particular notification questions. The workshop would be held in English but the Secretariat would look into possibilities to prepare training materials also in Spanish and French depending on the demand.

2.5.2  Date of next regular meeting

2.14.  The Chair proposed that the next (77th) regular meeting of the Committee on Agriculture would be held on 4-5 June 2015. The airgram convening this meeting would be issued on 22 May 2015.


[1] This document has been prepared under the Secretariat's own responsibility and is without prejudice to the positions of Members or to their rights and obligations under the WTO.

[2] G/AG/W/141.

[3] WTO/AIR/AG/2, Attachment Section B.

[4] WTO/AIR/AG/2, Attachment Section C.

[5] AG-IMS ID 75125.

[6] AG-IMS ID 75123 and 75124.

[7] G/AG/W/112/Rev.2.

[8] G/AG/16/Add.1 and G/AG/22.

[9] G/AG/W/125/Rev.2 and addenda.

[10] G/AG/W/137.

[11] G/AG/W/140.

[12] The dates of this workshop were subsequently changed to 6-9 July 2015.