WTO Negotiations

The negotiations at the World Trade Organization affect every part of agriculture. The Canadian government is under pressure to sign an international trade deal that could devastate our dairy farms. Rules being considered to guide global trade of agricultural products could undermine Canada’s ability to operate supply management effectively, putting farmers at risk of losing the Canadian market to subsidized imports. There is still a great deal of work to do if we want to avoid important economic losses for dairy farmers, the well-being of Canada's rural communities and the future of Canadian food.

The Doha Round

The Doha Round of negotiations started in 2001 with a goal to complete them within a few years. However, negotiating an agreement that touches agriculture, industrial goods and services for over 150 countries does become difficult, especially when trying to reach a consensus. In 2005, the WTO members managed to agree to phase out export subsidies by 2013.

Proposals published in December 2008 for agricultural trade could cost the dairy industry one billion dollars because:

  • Canadian dairy farms would be forced to reduce production as Canada would have to import 6% more foreign dairy products.
  • Reducing tariffs that prevent the dumping of foreign dairy products into Canada by at least 23% will also impact the stability of the Canadian dairy market.

In 2009, international leaders of various countries and groups of countries are still aiming to complete talks as soon as possible. The new target date is to finalize an agreement in 2010. Whether this new target is reached remains to be seen, as the positions of WTO members are as divergent as ever.

Dairy Farmers of Canada continues to press that all negotiations and subsequent agreements must result in a better functioning of international and domestic markets and contribute to the improvement of farm incomes. The continued support of the Federal Government is required to maintain Canada’s supply management system.

Geneva Watch

Geneva Watch is published by a correspondent in Geneva for Dairy Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers and Turkey Farmers of Canada to report on the various events occurring in Geneva, particularly on the WTO negotiations on agriculture.

Current and archived issues of Geneva Watch are in DFC’s library

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