Agreement on Agriculture
The WTO's Agreement on Agriculture is meant to govern the trade of agricultural goods between member countries. This is meant to be done through lowering barriers to the trade of such goods, particularly through reducing or removing domestic subsidies and tariffs on imports.
There is still great imbalance in global food trade. Rich countries still subsidies their domestic growers whilst demanding that poor countries remove tariffs on imports. This has resulted in some developing countries being flooded with subsidised imports, reducing or wiping out domestic food production.
But as global food prices rise, these policies are placing many countries at risk. With domestic production undermined, many people are unable to buy imported food for basic needs.
Protecting Food Security
In this context, developing countries have refused a WTO agreement that would remove their ability to respond to major changes in food prices. The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) is the mechanism being negotiated at the WTO to allow countries to respond to major increases in prices or import volumes by increasing tariffs before domestic producers are wiped out.
Special Products (SP) are another area of high importance to food security as well as controversy at the WTO. Special Products are a range of goods that are deemed by developing countries to be important to food security and as such available for lower reductions in tariff levels.
AFTINET supports the demands of developing countries for policies which protect food security through safeguards, special products and other measures.