Advancing agricultural trade reforms: Latin American contributions to the multilateral trading system
Multilateral trade negotiations over agriculture present a complex set of challenges: Finding a balance between the diverse interests and positions of the 164 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is exceedingly difficult due to the importance and varied sensitivities of this sector across countries. Those with significant agrifood exports want new market opportunities and thus promote greater trade liberalization; other members, generally importers, prefer to focus on increasing domestic production and protecting their domestic markets.
As a result of these differences, recent agricultural trade negotiations have moved slowly—and sometimes not at all. Only two ministerial decisions related to agriculture, focusing on export restrictions, were approved at the June 2022 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva. While those moves were positive and timely, no progress was made on the eight negotiation topics of the WTO’s agricultural program, including domestic support, market access, and public stockholding for food security. Required work programs to guide post-MC12 negotiations for domestic support and public stockholding (PSH) programs were not discussed at all.