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Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
Commissioner Cioloş on WTO package in Bali
Press conference after the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Bali, Indonesia
7 December 2013
I am delighted that we have reached an agreement here in Bali. It has not been easy, but it is critically important to maintain a credible WTO which can move forward to deal with 21st century trade concerns.
There are a number of issues in the package which are important for agriculture, in particular in developing countries – and the EU has tried to be as constructive as possible in finalising these issues. A number of issues are also particularly important for EU agriculture.
On Tariff Rate Quota administration, we have found an agreement that TRQs must be properly administered – both in terms of transparency, and in terms of obligations for developed countries to provide market access where TRQs are consistently underfilled.
On Export Competition, we have found language which renews our commitment to eliminating export refunds in parallel with disciplines on all other export measures with equivalent effect. I recall that we have recently reduced our actual export refund spending to zero, and changed our rules to limit our future use of refunds, but we insist that all such export measures must be covered before we make any binding commitment in a global WTO package.
Finally, there is the question which has dominated so much of this week's discussions – the concept of Public stockholding for food security purposes. Let me underline that no-one, and certainly not the EU, has ever questioned the right of a country to provide food for free or at low prices to needy citizens. Nothing discussed here in Bali has put this into question. What the debate has really been about is ensuring that national choices on farm policy do not harm other countries' farmers or food security. I believe we have found a form of language which respects this. We in the EU ourselves have a longstanding aid for the most deprived programme - but one which is in line with WTO rules.
The final text does not weaken the criteria for the Green Box – which was an absolute red line for us. There is a strong commitment to find a permanent solution within 4 years. In any case, the interim solution is only possible for existing programmes. The text also includes a commitment that stocks do not distort trade and impact on food security in other countries – again a crucial issue for a wide range of developing countries.
Before closing, let me just say that the discussions I have had this week reinforce my belief in the importance of farm policy and farm policy instruments in providing farmers with a clear path and the confidence and stability to make their personal investment in agriculture.