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A look at the WTO Committee on Agriculture following its 100th session

A special event on 17 March marked the 100th session of the Committee on Agriculture where Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala praised the achievements of the Committee over the past 27 years and highlighted its important role in overseeing implementation of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. “The Committee has played a crucial role in improving how markets function, strengthening transparency, and enhancing the predictability and stability of global trade in food and farm goods,” she noted.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. Trade and markets for food and farm goods matter to us all — whether we are consumers of these products, or also produce, transform and trade them. To address government policies in this area, WTO members concluded the Agreement on Agriculture. The Committee on Agriculture oversees implementation of the Agreement and provides a forum for members to address related concerns.

“Today’s event marks an important milestone. It’s an opportunity to take stock of our achievements, and also to look ahead at the next quarter-century of work,” said DG Okonjo-Iweala in her opening remarks.

The DG stressed that the Committee on Agriculture was set up to allow WTO members to exchange views about compliance with rules in the Agreement on Agriculture. It also provides a forum to address disagreements about members’ agri-food trade measures and to help “nip trade irritants in the bud”, she added.

The Committee has also proved it can adapt to changing times, the DG said, pointing to its active role in implementing the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on eliminating agricultural export subsidies and in addressing export restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee is critically important to assure food security and rural development in the world.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said she is confident that the Committee will help members address new challenges in the future and work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She encouraged members to build on past experience and continue strengthening the Committee’s work through active participation and enhanced transparency regarding their trade measures.