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WTO Members Seek Path Forward After Inconclusive Agriculture Negotiations at MC13

Following an inconclusive outcome at MC13, WTO members aim to refresh agriculture negotiations. However, divergent views on the approach and negotiation forum highlight the challenge of reaching a consensus.

Saurabh Shukla
WTO Members Seek Path Forward After Inconclusive Agriculture Negotiations at MC13 (Photo Source: Pixabay)
WTO Members Seek Path Forward After Inconclusive Agriculture Negotiations at MC13 (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Despite expressing disappointment at the inconclusive outcome of the recent agriculture negotiations at the World Trade Organization's (WTO) MC13, member states are determined to find a path forward toward progress.

During the recent meeting, delegates acknowledged the setback but highlighted that discarding previous efforts and starting anew would not be productive. Brazil, in particular, presented a proposal aimed at revitalizing the agriculture talks, building on the Abu Dhabi Draft Text on Agriculture, which itself was a revised version of the Chair's text circulated prior to MC13.

Brazil's proposal suggests conducting negotiations across all agriculture topics simultaneously. However, consensus on whether to conclude a standalone agreement addressing challenges faced by some developing economies in purchasing food at government-set prices for public stocks remains elusive. The debate continues on whether this issue should be tackled alongside other unresolved negotiating topics in preparation for MC14.

The reaction to Brazil's proposal has been mixed. While some negotiators welcome the initiative and advocate for immediate talks on unresolved issues, others stress the need for a comprehensive approach to address all members' concerns. The Cotton-4 (C-4) countries, comprising Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali, emphasized the urgency of addressing distortions affecting global cotton markets.

The discussions have highlighted differing views on the way forward. While many members support resuming text-based negotiations, some urge caution, suggesting further consultations to explore new ideas and approaches. Additionally, there are divergent opinions on the negotiation forum, with some favoring parallel work in both the General Council and the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session, while others argue for the latter to remain the primary forum.

As the Chair of the negotiations thanked participants for their input, the focus now shifts to determining the best way forward to revive the agriculture talks and achieve meaningful progress at the WTO.

(Source: WTO)

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