Agricultural Protectionism in the Industrialized World

Agricultural Protectionism in the Industrialized World

Agricultural Protectionism in the Industrialized World

Agricultural Protectionism in the Industrialized World

Excerpt

Mounting tensions in agricultural trade have focused attention on the close relationship that exists between the domestic and international agricultural policies of the major industrial countries. Recent deliberations in the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) recognize that mutually agreed-on reductions in the protection of agriculture cannot be dealt with effectively by concentrating exclusively on import restrictions and export subsidies; the domestic policies, which are at the root of the problem, must also be addressed.

Agricultural policies have been resistant to change because they are deeply entrenched in national legislation or, in the case of the European Community, in international agreements arrived at with great difficulty. Escalating budget costs have led to a thorough reexamination of these policies. There is a growing consensus that present price support policies are not achieving their objectives. Moreover, the objectives themselves are being questioned in view of the structural changes that have occurred since they were conceived. The May 1987 ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development stressed the need for basic changes in national farm policies. There is the opportunity to carry out, in one or more multilateral trade negotiations, agricultural policy reforms that would begin to phase out price supports and replace them, where necessary, by less market-distorting, more precisely targeted, and less costly forms of assistance to farmers.

Encouraged by consultations with scholars and research institutions in Europe, North America, Japan, and Oceania, the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy at Resources for the Future decided to undertake an international project designed to assess national agricultural policies and their implications for trade and to distill lessons and conclusions that may be useful to policymakers. The project was launched in February 1986 with a workshop held at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii that was attended by twenty-two scholars from the countries covered by the study. Drafts of the country chapters to be included in the resulting report were discussed at the meeting, together with a global analysis of the economic effects of agricultural protection prepared by Rodney Tyers and Kym Anderson for the World Bank. A second workshop was held in December 1987 in Washington, D.C., to review revised drafts of the country chapters and first drafts of the global analyses contained in part 2 of this volume. The Washington workshop attracted more than thirty scholars. (A list of participants . . .

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