WTO members recently concluded their 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi by securing historic agreements on a series of trade initiatives. Centrepiece of the Nairobi Package is a Ministerial Decision on Export Competition, including a commitment to eliminate subsidies for farm exports. Under the decision, developed members have committed to remove export subsidies immediately, except for some specified agriculture products, and developing countries will do so by 2018. Member countries have agreed to ensure that any export subsidy has at most minimal trade distorting effects and that the same do not displace or impede the exports of another member country. It may be noted that all the countries have also agreed to not to provide export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes for exports of products listed in Annex 1 of the Agreement on Agriculture.
On demand from a large number of developing countries for a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural products, India negotiated a ministerial declaration that recognises that developing countries will have the right to have recourse to a SSM as envisaged under paragraph 7 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration. The SSM allows developing countries to resort to higher customs duties on some farm produce to protect the interests of its farmers. WTO members also agreed to engage constructively to negotiate and to make concerted efforts to adopt a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes. Negotiations in this regard will now be held in the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session.