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Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Agriculture: Commitments, Cooperation and Conflicts

By William A. Kerr and Shannon L. Hall

Abstract

With regard to international organisations, agricultural economists have tended to focus their attention on the World Trade Organisation. There is a good reason for this – WTO negotiations determine, to a considerable degree, the international constraints on the imposition of barriers to market access, the subsidisation of exports and the subsidisation of domestic production. Most governments, however, have made a wide range of additional international commitments that have implications for trade and domestic policy making in agriculture through the negotiation of a large number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Biosafety Protocol (BSP). These have received much less attention from agricultural economists, yet may considerably influence the direction of agricultural policy development and, at times, fundamentally conflict with WTO commitments. This article provides a brief examination of the current international commitments contained in MEAs, how this international cooperation will influence the development of agricultural policies and where conflicts with the WTO are likely to arise.Environmental Economics and Policy, International Relations/Trade,

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