The impact of the Doha round of WTO agricultural negotiations on the South African economy

Nyhodo, Bonani (2009-03)

Thesis (MScAgric (Agricultural Economics)--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The Doha Round of negotiations on the liberalisation of agricultural trade inherited complications from its predecessor - the Uruguay Round (UR). It needs to be noted, as one of the fundamental differences, that agriculture sectors in the developed countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) get support from their governments. In contrast to the situation, in the developing countries, agriculture is taxed to generate government revenue. The subsidies that farmers receive in the developed countries affect farmers globally through world prices (world prices depression). Therefore protection and greater subsidies should be not encouraged. As such, after a long time of preferential treatment, agriculture trade was tabled as a separate issue of negotiations at the UR and resulted to the round to be prolonged. However, one of the achievements of the UR was imposing of bound tariffs on agricultural products and determining tariff equivalence for non-tariff measures. Then, the Doha Round (DR) also known as the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) which is the first round to place development and focus strongly on agricultural liberalisation as a tool for development. International trade theory supports agricultural liberalisation, as negotiated in the DDA. Therefore, the DDA, in seeking more liberalised agricultural markets, continues a theoretically sound approach, as in the UR. The effects of liberalising agricultural trade in the DDA will differ across countries, whereas some will gain, others may loose, and the same situation is true for different sectors within an economy. The focus of the DDA on agriculture, as a tool of development, links well to the fact that agriculture in the developing countries accounts for a substantial share of their gross domestic products (GDPs) and exports. This situation, therefore, calls for a closer consideration of the possible impact of agricultural liberalisation in South Africa even though agricultural share of GDP is less than 4 percent.

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