|News & Views - A 2020 vision for food, agriculture, and the environment - September 1999: Pushing back Poverty in India. (IFPRI, 1999, 10 p.)|
At the conclusion of the Uruguay Round negotiations on global trade, participating countries agreed that agricultural negotiations should resume in 1999. When trade ministers meet later this year in Seattle, United States, they may initiate a "millennium round" of global trade negotiations under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). How should developing countries prepare for these trade negotiations? What does the agenda for their food and agricultural systems look like?
To answer these questions, the 2020 Vision initiative prepared a set of policy briefs, Getting Ready for the Millennium Round, 2020 Focus 1, edited by Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla and Sherman Robinson. This collection of nine briefs brings together experts from around the world to analyze the negotiating agendas of eight major geographic regions and economic groupings as they get ready for the millennium round. The briefs inaugurate a new publication series, the 2020 Focus. Each set of briefs in the Focus series will discuss an important topic that has the potential to influence global food security in significant ways up through 2020.
The millennium round briefs focus on the national, regional, and international concerns that will shape the nature and pace of the new round of trade negotiations. The world trade environment is a complex mix of regional integration, liberalization, globalization, domestic subsidies, and overt and covert protectionism. The briefs argue for making trade regimes more transparent, particularly by eliminating agricultural export subsidies; implementing greater disciplines on domestic supports (especially the still large production subsidies in developed countries); curtailing the distorting practices of state trading enterprises; reducing tariffs; and adjudicating the controversies surrounding the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement by relying on the existing process of dispute settlement to clarify the issues involved. Embarking on such measures, while allowing developing countries special treatment, would make trade more equitable, benefit developing countries, limit overall price fluctuations, and expand market access for all.
The briefs also discuss the situation of the least-developed countries and net-food-importing countries; the particular challenge that genetically modified products present to negotiators; the links between trade, labor, and the environment; the accession of China and other major players to the WTO; and the political economy of the negotiations.
To provide a forum for an exchange of views on these issues among government officials, researchers, and other interested parties in the Washington, D.C. area, IFPRI held a 2020 Vision panel discussion on April 22. The editors of the brief collection led the discussion, which was joined by commentators from various embassies.