Participants at the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council annual meeting, Nov. 14 and 15, 2017, in Baltimore, Md., got an early look at a new study indicating that developing countries have been competing quite effectively in global agricultural trade. In addition, the study showed that agricultural products are often classified as “sensitive products” in trade agreements, leading to a significant level of protection, especially by developing and advanced developing countries.
The report is “The Global Landscape of Agricultural Trade, 1995-2014,” just released by USDA’s Economic Research Service. The authors’ summary says the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (URAA) of 1994 imposed new disciplines on market access barriers, domestic support and export subsidies, and set up rules for non-tariff measures. In the two decades since the URAA, government interventions in agricultural trade have evolved, agricultural trade has expanded and BRIIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, and China) and other emerging economies have become significant agricultural traders. The summary adds that although clear progress has been made in such areas as tariff reductions and elimination of export subsidies, there is room for further disciplines on tariffs, nontariff measures and domestic policy.
Specifically, the study showed that the value of global agricultural exports adjusted for inflation has doubled since 1994, indicating a significant increase in the total market size. Overall, as the BRIIC country share of total imports is increasing, North American and Western European countries are importing a smaller percentage of the total. Conversely, the total share of world agricultural exports from the United States is down from 20 percent to 14 percent, while BRIIC country share is up from 14 percent to 23 percent. Global wheat trade has displayed a similar pattern: as U.S. exports have remain fairly stable, the U.S. share of a growing total world wheat market has declined.
The report summary adds that major emerging economies have increased the support they provide to farmers, sometimes using methods like price supports or input subsidies that are more likely to distort trade. In some of these countries, the study showed, recent emphasis on agriculture support is a sharp departure from earlier policies that implicitly taxed agriculture. Read the entire report online here.