The looming EU- US WTO Spanish ripe olives dispute

An agenda item on the AGRI Committee’s last meeting in this Parliamentary term yesterday dealt with a presentation by DG AGRI’s Director for International Affairs John Clarke on the agricultural component of ongoing trade negotiations and other relevant issues of trade policy (starts at 16:23 on the meeting video). Amid a chorus of complaints from AGRI MEPs about poultry imports from Ukraine, tomato imports from Morocco and potential Brazilian tariffs on EU exports of garlic, Mr Clarke gave a robust and trenchant defence of the Commission’s role in managing international agricultural trade relations.

Among the items he covered was the EU response to the US imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties in 2018 on the import of Spanish ripe olives, confirming earlier preliminary determinations to impose provisional duties.

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Recent trends in EU WTO domestic support notifications

The EU submitted its latest domestic support notification to the WTO for the 2015/16 marketing year on 23 August last. This notification is interesting because it covers the first full year of operation of the new CAP in 2015, as the new direct payments architecture was first implemented in that year. This post examines the trends in domestic support in this and recent notifications, and speculates on how the figures might be affected by the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP announced on 1 June last.

Trend in overall domestic support

The broad trends in domestic support provided to EU agriculture according to the WTO classification is shown in the Figure below.

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Two indicators, little in common, same name: Market Price Support

We are pleased to welcome this guest post by Lars Brink, who is an independent advisor working from Canada.

This post examines the concepts and calculations of the two different agricultural policy indicators called Market Price Support (MPS): the one is used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its measurement of producer support in its Producer Support Estimate (PSE) indicator, and the other is identified in the Agreement on Agriculture (AA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as part of the measurement of the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) indicator.

Once the United Kingdom (UK) has withdrawn from the European Union, the UK by itself will be the entity for which support to agriculture is measured under the practices or rules of international organizations such as the OECD and the WTO.

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Does the WTO discipline really constrain the design of CAP payments?

This post is contributed by Jean-Christophe Bureau who is professor of of economics at AgroParisTech, Université of Paris-Saclay, and heads the joint research team in public economics of INRA, the National Institute for Agricultural Reseach in France.

The idea that the definition of CAP instruments has been (and still is) heavily constrained by World Trade Organisation rules is widespread. In debates on the post 2020 CAP, the issue of compatibility with WTO disciplines is raised each time coupled payments, countercyclical payments, support to production in less favoured areas, risk management or income stabilization schemes are discussed. An issue of particular interest (which this post focuses on) is environmental payments.… Read the rest

EU-Brazil WTO proposal on domestic support

On 17 July last week the EU and Brazil, supported by Columbia, Peru and Uruguay, put forward a proposal at the WTO in Geneva in an effort to build momentum to reach agreement on revisions to agricultural domestic support disciplines and on a resolution of the public stockholding issue at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Council meeting in Buenos Aires in December (I will refer to this as the EU-Brazil proposal in what follows). This follows a similar joint initiative by these two WTO members to eliminate export subsidies in the run-up to the last WTO Ministerial Council meeting in Nairobi in December 2015, which resulted in the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Export Competition.… Read the rest

How external influences have shaped the CAP

When the external impact of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is discussed, it is often in the context of evaluating the CAP’s impact on world markets and third countries. For example, there is a substantial literature which looks the coherence of the CAP with the EU’s development co-operation objectives by examining its impact on developing countries (see my 2014 review chapter here).
In a new study for the AGRI Committee of the European Parliament, Professor Alan Swinbank of the University of Reading turns this traditional focus on the impact of the CAP on world markets on its head. His study The Interactions between the EU’s External Action and the Common Agricultural Policy instead looks at how the external dimension of the EU – including trade policies pursued through the WTO and other international obligations and its development co-operation activities with neighbouring states and developing countries – have influenced the evolution of the CAP.… Read the rest

UK Brexit and WTO farm support limits

Today, we are pleased to present a guest post by Lars Brink who is affiliated with the Global Issues Initiative at Virginia Tech University and a leading expert on domestic support issues in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.
Background
Domestic support and Bound Total AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) may not be high priority items, compared to market access, in terms of analysing trade distortions. Still, anything that touches on farm support and limits on such support attracts attention. This may apply also in a case of Brexit negotiations. This note is about the WTO domestic support commitment of the United Kingdom in case of a Brexit.… Read the rest

WTO dimensions of a UK 'Brexit' and agricultural trade

Following a first round of discussions on UK demands for a renegotiation of the terms of its membership of the EU at the European Council meeting last month, it now seems that the February meeting of the Council will agree on some package of measures and promises in response to UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s demands. It will then be up to Cameron to decide if this package is sufficient for him to campaign to stay in the EU in the referendum promised to take place before the end of 2017 and possibly later this year. Even if Cameron decides to campaign in favour of staying in, there is no guarantee that the UK voters will follow him.… Read the rest

The EU has finally agreed to eliminate export subsidies…three cheers!

As long as I have been commenting on the CAP, its most criticized feature has been its use of export subsidies, also called export refunds. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the EU was spending €10 billion a year on export subsidies, almost one-third of the CAP budget, in order to allow traders to get rid of the EU’s growing export surpluses by paying the difference between the EU’s high internal prices and lower world market prices.
Export subsidies allowed EU exporters to grab market share in import markets from competing exporters, put downward pressure on the level of world market prices, and competed unfairly with local producers in many developing countries.… Read the rest

TTIP and the potential for US beef imports

Beef is generally considered to be a sensitive sector in the EU-US negotiations on a possible Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. Currently, imports of beef from the US are limited by high tariffs and by the refusal of the EU to allow the import of beef produced with the aid of pharmaceutical technologies such as hormones and beta-agonists (a class of non-hormonal compounds that act to increase feed efficiency).
Nonetheless, EU imports of non-hormone-treated beef from the US have been increasing in recent years. Different views have been expressed about the likely consequences for the EU beef market if market access were further liberalised under a TTIP agreement.… Read the rest