The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Doha talks resume; reaction mixed to import plan

Food security, price volatility and export restrictions are receiving a higher profile in the World Trade Organization Doha round agriculture negotiation that opened today in Geneva, a source close to the WTO said.

Net food-importing developing countries proposed new rules that would allow them and least-developed countries to import from countries that restrict exports more generally, but reaction was mixed, the source said.

Delegations broadly sympathized with the group and said they would look at the proposal, but some added that all countries are affected, and that food security and prices volatility should be handled by removing distortions in all areas of agricultural trade, not just by focusing on export restrictions and special treatment for some countries, the source said.

David Walker, the New Zealand ambassador who chairs the agriculture talks, told delegates that they should try to produce a "contribution" to the general talks during their two-week meeting, the source added.

The original objective was to produce revised draft texts before March 29. While some members said that should remain the objective, others suggested that if revised drafts are not possible then the chairs should submit reports, the source said.