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Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission

food system and our rural areas as market principles are more widely applied. The solution for many is take food and agriculture out of the narrow confines of “trade issues,” making them rather into issues of “development,” and even “sovereignty,” particularly what farmer organizations refer to as “food sovereignty.” As such, this paper presents a number of concrete, feasible policy proposals concerning dumping, supply management, anti-trust, subsidies, and venues for negotiations critical for developing a more holistic and coherent alternative framework for agriculture and human development.

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Trade Negotiations and Trade Liberalization

World trade negotiations geared toward agreements and treaties for trade liberalization have been taking place continually since 1986, with the inauguration of the Uruguay Round of negotiations in the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which became the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Since the founding of the WTO the negotiations have been highlighted by a series of ministerial meetings where major decisions are to be made by the highest level of government

officials. Some of these meetings often as they have been successful.

have been failures—on their own terms— almost as Differences over the regulation of agricultural trade

and farm subsidies played central roles 1999 and in Cancún, Mexico, in 2003. some agricultural issues paved the way

in the most publicized of the On the other hand, in 2004 a for what has been called the

failures, in Seattle in partial agreement on “July breakthrough,”

allowing stalled WTO negotiations to re-start—though closer examination the real issues underlying the stalemate remain relatively unchanged.

shows

most

of

Trade liberalization is the process of removing barriers to trade. The idea is to liberate trade and thus, market forces, from taxes and regulations that hinder them—and from government subsidies that distort them—creating incentives for businesses everywhere to produce more to take advantage of more easily accessible foreign markets. This is expected to generate more economic activity, jobs and growth. According to the theory of comparative advantage—that some countries are good at producing one thing (like cars), while other are good at producing another (like coffee)—every country is supposed to benefit from liberalized trade. This is less than clear in practice however, and a global controversy has emerged as to whether we are on the right track.

Barriers to trade are any policy measures that alter—or distort—the uninhibited flow of

trade.

imports,

Typical barriers protect domestic production from the competition of

and

thus

are

called

“protectionism.”

Barriers

can

take

the

form of

tariffs

cheap (taxes

on imports), but there are many other forms; as a group (NTBs). Non-tariff barriers can be import quotas, local subsidies and price supports (because they make local unsubsidized imports), export subsidies (because they

they are called non-tariff barriers content requirements, production products more competitive than confer an artificial advantage to

foreign difficult

products in importing countries), and a myriad of to identify at first. Even health and quality standards

others.

Many NTBs are

and

labeling

requirements

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