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Effects of WTO, World Bank & IMF on Farming in Less Developed Countries

Abdullah Al Saleh Philanthropist

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Effects of WTO, World Bank & IMF on farming in Less Developed Countries

Abdullah Al Saleh

Table of Content

Background

Trade World Bank & International Monetary Fund World Trade Organization Table 1: Tariff bindings on Industrial and Agricultural products

Agreement on Agriculture

Market Access Domestic Support Table 2: Reduction Commitments for Developed and Developing Countries Export Subsidies

1 1 2 2 3 4 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 6 7 7 9 10 11 14

Effects of Agreement on Agriculture

Market Access Export Subsidies Domestic Support Table 3: Ranges of Notified Current Total AMS levels, 1995-99 Figure 1: Patterns of world trade in agriculture and other commodities

Case Study: South Asia

Table 4: Coefficient of Variation of monthly Prices

Conclusion Bibliography

Effects of WTO, World Bank & IMF on farming in Less Developed Countries

Abdullah Al Saleh

Background

In less developed countries (LDCs), agriculture and rural development is crucial in the efforts to reduce poverty. Agriculture is the backbone of LDCs; it not only accounts for 30 to 60% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all LDCs but also employs almost 70% of the population. Agriculture also has an impact on the foreign exchange market, and is the primary source of food and basic needs to the majority of LDC's population. During the 1990s, the agricultural output of most LDCs increased to 2.8% at an annual average rate, exceeding the rate in the 1980s: 1.9 percent, with an average progress per capita. In contrast, the recent report for 2000 ­ 2005 reveals little improvements, or even minor decline, in output; the same holds true for staple food production per capita. Moreover, limited food production growth, along with sharp, unstable fluctuations in output, is a chronic and crucial problem for LDCs, especially considering that food insecurity most often leads to poverty. In 1995 ­ 1997 and 2002 ­ 2004, the total undernourished population in LDCs increased from 34% to 41%, and those who are significantly undernourished increased from 116 million to 169 million (United Nations, 2007, p. 3).

Trade

Globalization has both challenges and opportunities for agriculture in LDCs. While benefiting from globalization depends on growth and development and being able to access markets through trade, there are factors that constrain the internal supply-side, which is linked to economic underdevelopment, that contribute to uncompetitive exports. In the field of international agriculture trade, LDCs have insignificant and even declining participation; therefore, LDCs share in the international agriculture export market decreased in 1970 ­ 1979 from 3.2% to 1.9%, and by another 0.9% in 2000 ­ 2004. As a result, LDCs constitute only 1.9% of the world's import. On the other hand, in 2000 ­ 2004, there was a 10% increase in the world agriculture trade; out of 48 LDCs, 17 of them experienced a decline in the agriculture exports. In addition, their share of significant agricultural commodities has fallen sharply by 37% from the 1980s to 2004 for key commodities such as cocoa, timber, tea, and coffee. Hence, in 2004, trade in Sub-Saharan Africa LDCs constituted 26% of the world's total agricultural imports, whereas 17% was LDCs exports to Asia in the same year (United Nations, 2001). At the international level, the WTO, World Bank, and IMF had both a positive and negative direct effect on LDC agriculture.

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World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The World Bank and IMF Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) were first introduced in 1980. Market access or trade liberalization to foreign competition and reducing the local business of government protection is crucial to SAPs; the World Bank and IMF believe that free trade is the best way to promote growth and development, strong currency for debt repayment, and offers a long-term strategy for poverty reduction. Since the introduction of SAPs, there were minor benefits to farmers compared to thousands of farmers losing their land and consequently their livelihood - most LDC farmers rely on farming as a source of food and income. The World Bank and IMF perspective for growth and development is via increasing exports. Unfortunately, this perspective comes at the expense of farmer's way of living. For example, production must be shifted to cash-crops; for this to be done, traditional crops grown for local consumption will become crops that are produced for developed countries. Therefore, governments cut incentives for growing local products to growing export crops So growth, development and sustainable farming strategy proposed by the World Bank and IMF to the farmers in the LDCs cannot achieve its ultimate goal if the farmers cannot feed themselves (Jubilee USA Network, 2004).

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The third factor that will be discussed intensively in the essay is the effects of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AOA). The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) (1948 - 1994) has created various rules to govern international trade, but there are several exemptions, loopholes, and exceptions that are applied to manufactured goods. For instance, the export of agriculture products is allowed to be subsidized, unlike industrial products. Consequently, lack of fairness and transparency in agriculture trade was extremely distorted. On the other hand, the achievements were to have more rule ­ based GATT discipline to the international agriculture trade and its related policies (Schnepf, R. 2005, p.6). In 1995, following the Uruguay Round negotiations, the WTO formed additional rules to govern agriculture and food in the international trade system. The overall aim of WTO is to use free trade to improve development and growth using increased competition, lower production costs, and commodity prices that are affordable for everyone worldwide.

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Table 1. Tariff Bindings on Industrial and Agricultural products, Pre-Uruguay Round and Post-Uruguay Round Country group Percentage of Tariff lines bound Developed countries Developing countries Transition economies Total Percentage of imports under bound tariffs Developed countries Developing countries Transition economies Total 94 13 74 68 99 61 96 87 81 22 59 63 100 100 100 100 Industrial Products Pre-UR Post-UR Agricultural Products Pre-UR Post-UR

78 21 73 43

99 73 98 83

58 17 57 35

100 100 100 100

Out of the 50 LDCs WTO members, only 32 are present; this means the AOA that emerged from the Uruguay Round has been formulated under the absence of the very LDCs it is advocating for. Therefore, the challenge facing LDCs is to have the commitment and meet the obligations of the new trading system. Moreover, LDCs and other WTO members are subject to removing non ­ tariff measures and are obligated to all tariff lines, but most of LDCs have bounded their tariffs at higher than the agreed upon rates. They have also declared that they were not serious in supporting agriculture; indeed, most of the members stopped subsidizing agriculture and instead taxed the sector either explicitly, by taxing

most of the commodities production and export, or implicitly, by securing the agricultural industry. However, a benefit of the AOA for LDCs is to develop an added value industry and reduce tariffs. To the benefit of farmers, the tariffs on the primary commodities are lower than the processed agricultural products. Currently, LDC tariff rates on a variety of processed products such as leather, coffee extracts, crude vegetable oils, and cocoa pastes are low. In contrast, tariffs were cut significantly for the crucial processed commodities that are not currently exported by LDCs but this may occur in the post-Doha situation (United Nations, 2001).

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Agreement on Agriculture (AOA)

Under the umbrella of WTO, AOA is one of the 29 individual texts that are fully dedicated to agriculture as the first multilateral agreement. AOA's aim is to reorganize trade in the agricultural sector for better market orientation to the country members, in order to improve the import and export security. There are three pillars of the AOA that reduce and limit the amount of distortive subsidies subjected to their agriculture sectors: market access, domestic agriculture support, and export subsidies (Schnepf, R. 2005, p. 12). developing countries, along with along with a minimum tariff reduction of 10% for any one product (Action Aid 2010, p. 3).

Domestic Support

Domestic support broadly refers to the agricultural policies and regulations that have an impact on farming in general, whether in production, resource consumption, or even environmental issues. WTO members can play with the electorate to support their own domestic policies so that they can pursue various national policy objectives. Articles 6 and annexes 2, 3, and 4 of the AOA focus on domestic support, and the WTO has categorized the domestic subsidies into three classes: Green, Blue, and Amber boxes. Green boxes are subsidies that are not subjected to WTO reduction commitments that do not cause minimal distortion and are deemed to not distort trade. Blue boxes are mainly any support to amber boxes on the condition that there is limit production to agricultural producers in addition to no limit spending; amber boxes are subsidies that are considered to distort trade and production and are subjected to WTO reduction commitments (Schnepf, R. 2005, p.6).

Market Access

Market access refers to the amount of imports permitted by a country. The WTO offers a more detailed definition: the regulations of governing tariff and non-tariff measures agreed to by the WTO members for particular goods to enter their markets (Ibid). Articles 4, 5, and annex 5 are important articles that discuss what is meant by market access and highlight the need for tariffication, the process of eliminating all non-tariff barriers. Bound rate is a ceiling rate where tariffs should not exceed, with any exceptions for any country. As shown in Table 2, this means a 36% reduction of import tariffs over 6 years for developed countries, along with a minimum tariff reduction of 15% for any one product, as well as the 24%reduction of import tariffs within a period of 10 years for the

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Table 2. Reduction Commitments for Developed and Developing Countries

Developed countries Implementation Period: 1995-2000 Developing countries Implementation Period: 1995-2004

Tariffs Average cut for all agricultural products Minimum cut per product Domestic support Total AMS cuts for sector (base period: 1986-88) Export Subsidies Value of subsidies Subsidized quantities (base period: 1986-90)

-36% -15%

-24% -10%

-20%

-13%

-36% -21%

-24% -14%

Least Developed Countries are exempted from reduction commitments Source :

(Pal, P. 2010, p.13)

Exports Subsidies

Export subsidies are direct or indirect incentives by the government to commercial firms in the form of incentives that support and encourage the growth of foreign sales of domestic products. Direct export subsidies are most often used when a country's local price for a good is artificially increased over the world market price. According to the AOA, there is no limit on indirect export subsidies, only for the direct export agricultural subsidies (Schnepf, 2005, p. 9). Articles 8 through 11 of the

AOA concentrate on the export subsidies; as shown in Table 2, the value and volume if export subsidies decreased by 36% and 24%, respectively for developed countries from 1986-1990. On the other hand, 24% and 10% of export subsidies respectively reduced by value and volume for the developing countries over ten years period from base period 1986-1990 (Action Aid 2010, p.3). Since the AOA came into action, it has demonstrated limited positive and major negative effects that are explained in the following section.

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Effects of AOA

The transparency of agricultural policies in WTO members is one of the positive effects of AOA, which has also created a base of quantitative and qualitative information on agricultural policies in WTO members. Useful experiences have been created since 1995 that provide useful structure in market access, export subsidies, and domestic support (Tangermann, S. 2001, p. 17). actual impact on trading conditions. The impact of the implementation of export competition is a crucial for the reliability of the Agreement, and the positive changes it has relative to the conditions practiced before the period of Uruguay Round. Therefore, regarding on this particular aspect, the AOA has worked well (Tangermann, S. 2001, p. 24).

Market Access

The first test for AOA is that after four years of initiating the agreement, all WTO members have bound the tariffs on all agricultural products. There are many cases, mainly in developing countries as down to the consistency of tariffs are concerned, where assigned tariffs continue to be considerably below the levels of bindings. Only a limited number of complaints have been declared when WTO claimed that a member had assigned an import regime that resulted in a breach of its tariff binding (Tangermann, S. 2001, p. 22).

Domestic Support

The most innovative part of the AOA is the domestic support in terms of significantly distinguishing agriculture from other industries and founding new rules. In 1995, many WTO members, as measured by the Current total Aggregate Pressure Support (AMS), were considerably below the levels of domestic support commitments (Table 3). Only Korea and Slovenia exceeded the commitment level by more than 90%. In all other years since 1995, half of all WTO members have consumed below 60% of their domestic support commitments (Tangermann, S. 2001, p. 29).

Export Subsidies

One of the most important pillars of the AOA is export subsidies, which had a great impact on the rules of agriculture over the "old" GATT, in the sense of formulating effective constraints on the current agriculture policies, as well as in terms of

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Table 3. Ranges of Notified Current Total AMS Levels, 1995-99

Current Total AMS as a percentage of Total AMS commitments levels (number of notifications)

Implementation year

Current Total AMS as a percentage of Total AMS commitments levels (number of notifications) 0-20% 21-40% 41-60% 61-80% 81 and over

1995 1996 1997 1998

7 6 5 3

2 5 5 2

4 2 1 0

8 8 5 4

6 4 6 4

27 25 22 13

Source: taken from WTO secretariat (2000e) Conversely, it has been analyzed that WTO agreements have not been successfully promoting growth in agricultural trade. In 1948, the average import duty on international goods was 40% for developed countries; this has declined to 6.4% in 1990 through the efforts of GATT. The years of 1960 ­ 1970 marked rapid growth world trade (Figure 1); however, a sharp decline in global agriculture exports reached 3.3% during 1980 ­ 1990. The only year that agriculture exports made double-digit growth (16%) was in 2003 (Kalirjan & Singh, 2006, p. 7).

Figure 1. Patterns of World Trade in Agriculture and Other Commodities

Total a Agricultural products Manufactures

Trade Index (1995=100)

WTO world trade statistics (Kalirjan & Singh 2006, p. 7).

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Critics of AOA say that it had used a `'one size fits all approach'', not taking into consideration the differences between the agricultural systems in both developed and developing countries. For example, it ignored the fact that the main contributor to the national income and a source of livelihood is the agriculture sector in LDCs, with a share of 26% in GDP, 27% contribution to the foreign exchange market, and 70% of the population who are engaged in agriculture. The case in developed countries is less sensitive: only 3% shares in the GDP, an 8.3% contribution to the foreign exchange market, and 4% of the population are engaged in agriculture. Moreover, LDCs are exempt from any reduction commitment; rather than ensuring flexibility to enforce trade policies, they did not take into account that each country has its own development objectives and procedures that will take additional time to implement the agreement. The AOA also discriminated between the needs for economical diversification of LDCs and the condition of no guarantee of food security. On the other hand, the way in which subsidies are classified is in favour of developed countries producers, by the provision of Peace Clause and Special Safeguards (SSG) (Action Aid 2010, p. 4). Technically, AOA works against the growth, prosperity, development, and food security needs of LDCs. Under the agreement, WTO members should only produce goods with low costs or those with which they have a comparative advantage among other members to import those plus the local production of food crops, from others that can produce them with lower costs and higher efficiency.

The effect on developed countries is that by virtue of their massive amount of subsidies, they have the option of dumping food products in the international market, and must extend supplying LDCs with their up-to-date subsidized agricultural surplus and LDCs must concentrate on exporting goods that will gain them the foreign exchange to purchase food from the developed countries. Hence, LDCs consequently become more dependent on the international markets by imports that drain their scarce foreign reserves, destroy their economical agricultural growth, and weaken their capacity to supply their own people with sufficient food (Glipo, A. 2003, p. 3).

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Case Study: South Asia

Until the 1980s, South Asian countries were worldwide among the least integrated economies that were following an import substitute industrialization approach. However, in the mid-1980s, they began looking for new economic policies and adopted the approach of export-led growth, liberalization, and privatization in order to become more globally integrated by initiating trade liberalization and changing the method of quantitative restrictions to reducing protection on market goods. Among the motivating factors for South Asian countries to increase openness was the new economic policies established by the WTO. At that point, South Asian countries believed that the policymakers of WTO would be more successful in imposing the new multilateral trading system to support export led growth approach over its predecessor GATT (Pal, P. 2010, p. 2-3). Even the Indian Commerce Minister, highlighted the beneficial aspects of trade after years of signing the AOA:

to the agriculture sector from the non-agriculture sector in the next few years"

(Pal, P. 2010, p. 7).

Given this optimistic scenario, the expectations of the impacts on growth, development, and trade liberalization on the agriculture sector were postulated under the assumption of free and fair international trade by AOA. However, following the implementation of AOA for seven years, it is now evident that the pre-UR agricultural trade issues are still pervasive. As the WTO special study summarizes, "many countries, both developing and developed, continue to protect, support, and subsidize their domestic producers and exporters of agricultural products" (WTO 2001, p. 5). Therefore, South Asian countries did not benefit much from the current global trade scenario and have new problems that affect the agricultural sector. For example, since 19951996, the prices of agricultural commodities declined in tandem with the huge number of subsidies supporting the agricultural sector in developed countries. Consequently, South Asian producers are suffering from below-average prices that increase their low competitiveness on an international level. A second scenario would be if the commodities are uncompetitive on the international level, the farmers should diversify to cash crops. However, it is not

"If `Internationalization' of our agriculture takes place it will have several implications: The terms of trade, which for long been in favour of industry, are expected to shift in favour of agriculture. It is estimated by some economists that every one per cent switch will divert about Rs 8,500 crore additionally in favour of agriculture and that about US$20 billion (over Rs 60,000 crore) will be transferred

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easy for South Asian farmers to shift from one crop to the other because of low capital, a lack of knowledge about the demand in the international commodity market, and inadequate rural credit programs. All makes the decision for a farmer to make this transition is difficult or impossible. Furthermore, export competitiveness in the international market is subject to changes in prices, production, and derivatives that developed countries know more about than do farmers in LDCs. In addition, the possibility of farmers in LDCs coping with competition at the international level is very complicated (Pal, P. 2010, p. 21-23).

In Table 6, a comparative study of price changes in the pre- and post-Uruguay Round period mentions an increase in crop prices in the postUR period. Bhattacharyya and Pal (2000) show that India's production of wheat and rice differs in price in the international market than in the domestic market. Sekhar, CSC (2003) also analyzes that a large number of commodities in India have higher prices in the international market than they do in the domestic market.

Table. 4. Coefficient of Variation of Monthly Prices

Non-Fuel Commodity prices index Cocoanut Oil, Philippine/Indonesia, cif Rotterdam Groundnut Oil, US runners, cif European Coffee, Other Milds, El Salvdor and Guatemala, ex-dock New York Coffee, Robusta, Uganda and Cote dlvoire, ex-dock New York

1994 to Dec - 1990 Jan-

2001 to Jul - 1995 Jan

Source: Price data from IMF, authors' calculation, shaded commodities have decline in price volatility (Pal, P. 2010, p. 19).

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Conclusion

The complex array of agricultural policies that are supported in developed countries significantly affects the countries that impose them, as well as LDCs. Moreover, developed countries invest a considerable portion of their output to back up the agriculture sector that is limited in relation to the size of their economies, and hire relatively few workers. Therefore, in the case of developed countries, eliminating agricultural support would increase prosperity by redirecting primary resources to more efficient uses and lowering the customer's price paid for agricultural products in most cases As a result, these are facts explains the political view that the agricultural sector wields in developed countries

(Tokarick, S. 2003, p. 42).

differs from that of developed countries. Lowering the maximum tariffs and non-tariffs barriers to the developed countries counter to food and agricultural exports of LDCs and the removal of tariffs differentiating regulations in raw materials of ready products. Second, is the other side of the coin where the international organizations, along with the developed countries are responsible of the decline by all means in LDCs agriculture sector. Gloop (2003) made strong arguments that I am convinced with that the AOA is skewed in favour of developed countries interests. He mentions that several crucial provisions in the AOA allow developed countries to circumvent their trade liberalization responsibility, thereby ensuring that their agricultural products remain protected. The Due Restrain Clause in the AOA under Article 13 proposes protection to those that have been exempted from reduction. The Special Safeguard provision indirectly benefits developed countries by applying only to those products that are tariffed. Additionally, since the implementation of the AOA, developing countries are facing a sharp decline growth rates in food production output that indicates their inability to meet domestic food consumption and ensure their long-term food security process has been significantly eroded. For instance in the U.S., the Green Box subsidies in 1998 reached 50 billion dollars, compared to Amber box subsidies with only 10 billion; food aid was the highest component of these exempted subsidies. Additionally, for both the U.S. and Europe, domestic spending increased

In addition, Civici (2003) defends the role of developed countries to support LDCs in all negotiations on agriculture by giving `'special and differentiated'' treatment for all of LDCs to tackle down their needs and to make sure their needs are taken into account. Recommending that WTO provisions be more pliable so that LDCs can have the opportunity to protect and support the development of their agriculture guarantees that rural farmers survive and that the application of their traditional agriculture

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to support their products due to the fall of world prices. As a result of their huge subsidies, they have lead to dumping in the LDCs that continues to wreak havoc on small farmer's livelihoods. For example, the Indian food policy analyst, Devinder Sharma, noted that the gross injustice of this system is when we look to amount of subsidy a cow in America and Europe receives a day, that is approximately 2.70 dollars per cow to the daily income of a limited and marginal rural farmer in the LDCs, which is about less than half of this amount. Moreover, Pal (2010) points out that the expectation of AOA to help LDCs induce production of agricultural goods, leading to increased development in rural areas and employment, has not materialized. A shift to a tariff-only regime and liberalising the agricultural sector has made South Asian farmers vulnerable to external threats. The failure of AOA is to support the economy of South Asia by generating the proposed level of benefits that is also reflected in the employment figures. In addition, since the implementation of AOA, the unemployment rate in South Asia has increased from 2.9 to 3.4 between 1995 - 2001, and the annual employment growth rate was increasing until the implementation of AOA that had stopped and pull down the growth rate. Furthermore, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has published on their website the increase of unemployment in Maldives, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India during this period. The survey of the Government of India Economic shows that the unemployment rate in 1993-94 has increased from 5.99% to 7.32% in 1999-2000.

Ahmed (2003) agrees with the arguments made by Pal (2010) and Gloop (2003) and adds that WTO and AOA have had adverse effects on the economy. Under the new legislations in the agriculture sector, the import of agricultural goods will be adversely affected as subsidies are withdrawn. Therefore, government expenditure would decline in terms of prices and income support systems, as well as the withdrawal of subsidies. On the other hand, there will be an increase in the price of agricultural goods. As a result, countries with organized markets and developed infrastructures will benefit more. Similarly, the WTO will negatively affect rural farmers; in that case, farmers will not survive in the long term due to economic cannibalism. The MNCs are going to benefit most of the broad-based resources in credit, massive land ownership, agriculture goods investment, big machinery, high-valued inputs and outputs, and international competitiveness. The MNCs will soon swallow rural farmers because they must either opt for cooperating with production for MNCs or serve as paid employees under the conditions of MNCs management. The second possibility is that the rural farmers give up working in farms and migrate to urban areas for earning their livelihood. This means that urban areas will become increasingly high­density, which could be a problem for many LDCs. that cause a major problem to LDCs that may get out of control. Hence, to support the farmers in advance, they need to be aware by conducting seminars regarding the WTO, AOA laws and principles and its effects on the economy on the agriculture sector. This is an important step towards sustainable social and economic development of the country. Furthermore, in

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the anticipation of MNCs taking over, there must be a plan to absorb the displaced rural farmers by declaring centres that are able to offer jobs at the local level to the farming community in small industrial units. This will help to solve the problem of future flow to the cities.

I support the logical arguments made by Ahmed (2003), Pal (2010), and Gloop (2003), and would suggest that LDCs withdraw from the WTO and form three unions: the Africa, Asia, and Latin America Unions. Each union is a set of countries in the region, and each country produces enough agricultural products for their people while specializing in the production of one unique product. After implementing this strategy, there will be fair trade between countries of the same union benefiting from each other's specializations. When the markets are mature and strong enough, they can begin trading between the three unions until they are recognized as developed countries.

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