The impact of the WTO agricultural negotiating modalities on Southern African Development Community countries

This paper assesses the likely impact on the agricultural sector of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries of the Harbinson modalities, along with the EU and US proposals as alternative scenarios in the context of the ongoing negotiations of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. Impacts are assessed on a number of indicators, notably government revenue, producer, consumer and total welfare measures and trade flow. Reflecting country- and commodity-specific factors, the three modalities have different impacts on the indicators. The SADC as a whole is found to lose in terms of total welfare under all three proposals. But while this loss under the Harbinson and EU proposals is due to declines in consumer surpluses and government revenues, reduced producer surplus and government revenue explain the loss in total welfare under the US proposal. Thus, the ranking of the modalities differs according to the impact indicator used, revealing important trade-offs in the choice of the modalities. An issue raised is the value of consumer gains relative to producer gains for low-income economies highly dependent on agriculture because for them effective demand for consumption itself depends on incomes generated from increased agricultural activities, which in turn requires sustained gains in producer surpluses. The paper presents a range of results and discusses the trade-offs, with the hope that SADC trade negotiators and policy makers find these to be useful as they negotiate for the final form of the modalities.

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Journal Article
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Agrekon, Volume 43, Issue 3
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-23

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