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[Article Summarized by Meridian Institute] The first informal meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture delegates was held last week, with the hope that they would agree on some deliverables in time for the ninth ministerial conference, to be held in Bali in December. Trade facilitation, particularly deals that ease customs and border procedures, are being talked about as a possible centerpiece of any Bali mini-package, but since many member say trade facilitation could not stand alone, other areas of the talks, including agriculture, have been discussed as possible items to balance out the deal. Two possible agriculture-related deliverables, one proposed by the G-20 and one by the G-33 – both developing country coalitions – include the administration of Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) and public stockholding for food security, respectively. John Adank, the New Zealand ambassador to the WTO, and chair of the agriculture talks, encouraged officials last week to share any new proposals in an effort to “intensify” the negotiating process in the coming weeks. More focused discussions, he added, should start by mid-February. Two additional proposals rumored to be under consideration include one on export competition and another on the food security needs of Net Food Importing Developing Countries. One delegate said there is “reduced short-term” ambition, considering the limited time between now and December, and how little was achieved at the 2011 ministerial.

Posted January 24th, 2013