The WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference Outcome

The WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015 culminated in committing to eliminate subsidies for agricultural exports.

Negotiations regarding this issue have been held over twenty years and only this year all WTO members have come to an acceptable solution.

Depending on the specifics of foreign trade, each country will get different regimes. For example, all countries, which have not applied export subsidies over recent three years, blow their chances for subsidies. Under the decision, developed members have committed to remove export subsidies immediately (at the same time, they receive a transition period for products previously on the notification list for export subsidies and reviewed by the WTO Committee on agriculture). The developing countries will do so by 2018. Developing members will keep the flexibility to cover marketing and transport costs for agriculture exports until the end of 2023, and the poorest and food-importing countries would enjoy additional time to cut export subsidies till 2030.

Russia has not applied export subsidies for agricultural products and during the accession to WTO took an obligation not to apply direct export subsidies for agricultural products.

The conference also took a decision to reduce tariffs on IT technologies, which expands the current Information and Technology Agreement, ITA adopted in 1996, and agreed on the timetable for implementing a landmark deal to eliminate tariffs on 201 information technology products, including: next generation semiconductors, play stations, MRI scanners, computer assisted tomography, among other. According to some estimates, ITA-II will expand world trade by $1.3 billion per year.

The final declaration notes that the WTO will remain the principal platform for negotiations on multilateral trade rules. It also underscores that the central character of multilateral trade system does not hamper the development of regional integration agreements but all regional trade agreements do not replace multilateral system but compliment it.

The WTO 10th Ministerial Conference saw Liberia and Afghanistan to join this organization. Thus, the WTO numbers 164 countries as its members.

To note, the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference was held in the framework of the Doha round, which commenced in 2001 and was called to resolve trade differences between countries with different level of economic development by way of promoting growth of developing economies through simplifies access to the markets. That round envisaged a large-scale update of effective trade agreements both on goods and services as well as protection of intellectual rights. However, due to disagreements between parties on key issues resulted in the lack of progress in resolution of the challenges facing multilateral trade system at present.

Nadezhda Volovik – head of Foreign Economic Activity Department