Rethinking the rules for agricultural subsidies
The paper raises several questions that need to be faced while further developing subsidy rules in the World Trade Organization. Its primary focus is on whether the shift in the distribution of agricultural subsidies has changed the relevance of the AoA. Examining whether the AoA has successfully distinguished between “good” farm subsidies and “bad” ones, it considers whether the agreement has hindered agricultural subsidies that are deemed desirable for development and sustainability. It also thinks over the question of disciplining food subsidies and biofuel programs by counting them as agricultural subsidies. Finally, it deliberates on the benefit of keeping the AoA subsidy framework when the ASCM (perhaps revised) would do as well. The paper puts forth alternative suggestions, including dividing the Green Box into direct income payments and “public goods” payments, which could operate under different constraints, and phasing out the AoA over time by shifting some of its provisions to the ASCM.