The chairman of the World Trade Organisation’s talks on liberalising the trade in agricultural goods has released his first proposal for binding targets that member governments should hit in the current Doha Development Round.

In his first draft of a ‘modalities’ agreement that would set these goals, Stuart Harbinson, of Hong Kong, has tentatively suggested, for instance, that for all agricultural tariffs greater than 90% ad valorem, WTO members should agree an average reduction rate of 60%, with a minimum cut of 45% per tariff line. Also, for all agricultural tariffs lower than 90% and greater than 15%, a simple average reduction rate should be 50%, with a minimum cut of 35% per tariff line, suggested Harbinson.

The idea is that having agreed the broad targets by 31 March, WTO member governments then negotiate bilateral deals on individual tariffs to meet them.

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