SA to participate in agricultural negotiations in Geneva

Friday, June 10, 2022

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, will be attending the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference on agricultural negotiations, scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 12 to 16 June 2022. 

The negotiations are based on Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture, which provides for the continuation of the negotiations on issues relating to agricultural support and protection.

The last major decision relating to agricultural negotiations was taken at the Nairobi WTO Ministerial Conference held in December 2015, with the elimination of export subsidies.

The department noted that during the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, no joint declaration or work programme could be agreed upon by the WTO membership.

“To date, progress has been limited with members mainly repeating known positions. The divide remains largely between developed and developing member states,” the department said in a statement.

The department said that South Africa’s priority in agricultural negotiations is to achieve a substantial and real reduction of trade distorting domestic support and to ensure sufficient policy space to carry out developmental policies that seek to address poverty, inequality and low economic growth.

For South Africa, the department said, the negotiations need to follow a certain sequence with domestic support as a priority.

“South Africa’s view is that market access negotiations should start once substantial progress has been made with domestic support. This is to ensure that historical imbalances are addressed and the playing field is levelled before engaging in further market access negotiations.

“Approximately 70% of South Africa’s agricultural exports are already duty free, incorporating the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Trade Protocol, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with the United States of America and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (this agreement is not yet implemented),” the department said.

South Africa’s major challenges regarding market access are in the sanitary and phytosanitary field, and those are not negotiated with the Agreement on Agriculture, the department added. –