Looking for a Permanent Solution on Public Stockholding Programmes at the WTO: Getting the Right Metrics on the Support Provided

Date period
26 October 2017

Implemented jointly by ICTSD and the World Economic Forum, the E15Initiative was established to convene world-class experts and institutions to generate strategic analysis and recommendations for government, business, and civil society geared towards strengthening the global trade and investment system for sustainable development.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on public stockholding programmes have been under discussion among member countries for quite some time and are likely to be at the heart of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017. This article proposes a new approach to advance toward a permanent solution on public stockholding programmes. This approach is based on splitting WTO rules into two components: i) the rules that specify how the support provided by public stocks should be calculated; and ii) the rules that define how WTO disciplines on support should be calculated. It focuses on the first, more technical, component. The author provides a systematic analysis of the biases in current WTO rules for estimating the support provided to farmers through public stockholding programmes and puts forward a proposal to correct them.