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WTO ends subsidies on agriculture exports

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The World Trade Organization on Dec. 19 agreed to eliminate subsidies for farm exports, marking the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organization’s 20-year history, according to WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo.

“WTO members — especially developing countries — have consistently demanded action on this issue due to the enormous distorting potential of these export subsidies for domestic production and trade,” he said. “Today’s decision tackles the issue once and for all.”

A number of countries are currently using export subsidies to support agriculture exports, WTO said. 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 member countries have committed to remove export subsidies immediately, except for a handful of agriculture products, and 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.