Food Aid and the Doha Development Round: Building on the Positive

Working and discussion papers
February 2006
Edward Clay

Food aid is a constraint on progress in the WTO agricultural negotiations. There is a growing risk of some unsatisfactory compromise just to unblock the wider agricultural negotiations and the opportunity will be lost to move towards a more constructive food aid regime. It is time therefore to re-assess the options under discussion looking for an outcome that would provide the basis for subsequent constructive negotiations outside the WTO to set the policy framework within which food aid operates. This Background Paper attempts that task first setting the context of food aid, its tying status and Doha Negotiation process. Four broad options before the negotiators are identified and considered in terms of three criteria, allowing those who organise food aid the flexibility to make appropriate decisions, simplicity in tracking compliance with WTO disciplines, and ensuring that real levels of food aid are sustained. The application of these criteria points to a combination of progressive, partial untying of all food aid to allow developing country sourcing of food wherever appropriate, phasing out of forms of food aid most likely to be anti-developmental combined with a donor reaffirmation of currents levels of commitments and funding during the transition process.

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