The Political Economy of International Trade Law: Essays in Honor of Robert E. Hudec

By Daniel L. M. Kennedy; James D. Southwick | Go to book overview

14
Developing country interests in WTO
agricultural policy
G. EDWARD SCHUH

This essay discusses the interests of developing countries in World Trade Organization (WTO) agricultural policies. Kym Anderson (1999) recently noted that “The potential gains from further liberalizing agricultural markets are huge, both absolutely and relative to gains from liberalizing textiles or other manufacturing, according to recent GTAP modeling results. ” That should not surprise us, since, aswillbenotedbelow, muchoftheworld'n the wrong places. Anderson goes on to note that “The prospective new millennium round offers the best opportunity yet for developing countries to be pro-active in seeking faster reform of farm (and textile) trade by OECD countries. In return, the developing countries will need to offer to open their own economies more. Fortuitously, that too is in the economic interests of rural people in poor countries. ”

My essay is divided into four parts. First, I will provide the background on events that have led to our present situation. I will of necessity paint with a broad brush in doing this, but the background is important to indicate why we are where we are, andtounderstandsomeoftheissuesthatwillhavetobeovercometomoveforward. Second, I will discuss a couple of conundrums in international trade negotiations that continue to be a puzzle. Third, I will discuss some of the specific issues on the current international trade agenda that need to be addressed if we are to make more efficient use of the world's agricultural resources and to address the serious problems of poverty in the developing countries. Fourth, I will have a few remarks on the issue of competitiveness, on the nature of the adjustment problem, and on how we might move forward with reform.


Some background

The reason the potential welfare gains from the liberalization of trade in agricultural products are so great is that much of the world's agricultural output is

It is an honor to participate in this tribute to Bob Hudec, an esteemed colleague who has contributed so much in the area of international trade policy, to the University of Minnesota, and to helping make this a better world. We hate to see Bob take leave of the University of Minnesota, but we take consolation in knowing that wherever he may be, he will be working to help alleviate the continuing tensions that divide the international community in such stressful ways.

-435-

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