South African agricultural representatives are looking at their own government to see what can be done in the wake of recently suspended trade talks of the World Trade Organization.
Trade ministers from Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, the European Union and the United States, failed to break a deadlock of farming subsidies, trade tariffs and market access on Sunday which ultimately resulted in the breakdown of the talks.
Like most other developing countries, South Africa acted in its own right as well as within various groupings, looking forward to acceptable global measures for trade, in general, and for agriculture, in particular, a scaling down of price-distorting international farm subsidies, including export subsidies, and better market access for our products, Agri SA Chairperson Neels Ferreira explained in a statement.
Given the developments at the weekend, it seems that these aspects are currently barely on the horizon, he added.
These events come amidst the recent findings by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development according to which it is clear that local agricultural producers enjoy minimal government support, he said
Another agricultural body, the South African Agricultural Processors Association (Saapa) said on Wednesday that the country would need to now adapt its trade and tariff policies as a result of the disappointing trade negotiations.
The failure of this round is a clear indication that the rich countries do not want to share their wealth with the developing word, said Jannie de Villiers, Saapa executive director in a statement.
He said that without the commitment from the WTO, developing countries like South Africa should not expect â€œfireworks in the phasing out of agricultural subsidiesâ€ which means that trade ministers should rethink their policies.
This is something we have to address. A suggestion is to define the unleveled playing field as expressed in the percentage PSE's [Producer Support Estimates] as determined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation [OECD] and to convert that to an ad valorem import tariff.
De Villiers said such a move would let South Africa liberalize its agriculture according to a reduction in international subsidies.
The OECD is a grouping of with representatives from some of the worldâ€™s largest nations, promoting â€œbest practicesâ€ with regard to trade.
Studies by the group have stated that liberalizing trade by lowering subsidies and reducing trade tariffs would be beneficial to the GDP of participating countries.