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Dairy Facts 2016

WTO Decides to Eliminate Ag Export Subsidies

Jan 06, 2016
Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organization and Amina Mohamed, chair of the conference and Kenya's cabinet secretary for foreign affairs and international trade.

The 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded in Nairobi, Kenya, last month, with a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports. While most export subsidies from developed countries will be removed immediately, those for dairy and a handful of other products must be eliminated by 2020.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo praised the commitment, saying it was the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organization’s 20-year history.

The other agricultural decisions cover programs that allow members to buy and distribute food for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries and measures related to cotton. Decisions were also made regarding preferential treatment for the least developed countries in the area of services and the criteria for determining whether exports from these countries may benefit from trade preferences.

Export Competition

The centerpiece of the Nairobi package is the Ministerial Decision on Export Competition, which includes a commitment to eliminate current export subsidies that support agriculture products. The legally binding decision would eliminate these subsidies and prevent governments from reverting to trade-distorting export support in the future.

Under the decision, developed members have committed to remove export subsidies immediately, except for a handful of agriculture products, and developing countries will do so by 2018. Dairy and other processed products were exempted from this immediate list, although scheduled export subsidies for these products must end by 2020. 

The World Trade Organization has 162 member countries as of November 2015. The Ministerial Conference, the chief decision-making body of the WTO, brings together all members every two years to discuss all matters under multilateral trade agreements.

More details on the outcomes from the ministerial are available at these links:


Least Developed Countries

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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