This paper forms part of a project titled ‘Facilitating Efficient Agricultural Markets in India: An Assessment of Competition and Regulatory Reform Requirements funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The project follows from previous research which found that India’s border reforms need to be complemented by ‘behind-the-border’ domestic reforms if government policy objectives of improved productivity, higher rural employment and incomes and enhanced food security are to be met. The project is being undertaken by Indian and Australian collaborators with expertise in agricultural policy development. Stage 1 of the project is designed to develop a common understanding among those collaborators of contemporary market based policy development principles and the extent to which they have been adopted in other developing countries. The BRICs economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, as well as South Africa, were chosen for this purpose. A comparative overview of agricultural policy developments in these economies is underway drawing observations about policy reform impacts on agricultural production and the extent to which policy reforms have been consistent with competition policy and microeconomic reform principles applied in developed economies, such as Australia. The extent to which trade practices law has emerged in developing economies as an alternative to direct regulation is also considered. Preliminary findings are reported to facilitate broader discussion and encourage input from interested parties. Stage 2 of the project, commencing later in 2009, will involve the application of competition policy principles to the marketing regulations of a selection of agricultural industries in India. Consideration will be given to clarifying regulatory objectives, assessing their consistency with accepted forms of ‘market failure’ and assessing whether regulatory measures address those policy objectives in a manner least restrictive on competition. As well as facilitating efficient policy reform within India’s agricultural sector, the project aims to enhance the development of market based agricultural policy frameworks and the policy development skills of Indian and Australian policy makers.


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