Research by Dirk Willem te Velde, Maxilimillano Mendez-Parra, Neil BalchinAlberto LemmaLeah Worrall for  ODI.

The next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference took place in Buenos Aires last December  13, 2017. This was the 11th Ministerial (MC11) since the start of the WTO and the 7th since the start of the Doha Round of WTO negotiations. The negotiations have so far failed to conclude with a comprehensive deal on agriculture, non-agricultural market access, and goods and services. Despite small achievements in past rounds (MC9 in Bali and MC10 in Nairobi), the negotiations have so far also failed to lead to improvements in WTO rules that would make world trade freer, as well as help the global economy and developing countries in particular.

The summary paper and three background papers examine the possible impact of current negotiating proposals in three main areas (agriculture, ecommerce and fisheries) that are currently under discussion in the run-up to MC11. They explore what is at stake in MC11 negotiations; provide an overview of the different issues and negotiating positions; and discuss how these could potentially affect development.

Overall, our assessment suggests the proposals currently under discussion on agriculture, fisheries and e-commerce are likely to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable countries. In some cases (e.g. for net food importers), there is a risk of short-term losses, but these are manageable. In others (ecommerce and data protection, fisheries), the poorest countries will need further support if they are to benefit substantially.

Going into the details of each negotiating issue, a global reduction in agriculture domestic support would raise global efficiencies, but a reduction in the existing aggregate measurement of support may not have major immediate effects on global prices (in part because bound levels are higher than current support levels). There are also many different providers of support, and gainers and losers from elimination are diverse, depending in part on trade structures.

Read full report here.

Photo: Ricardo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)