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  • Farmers harvest chile peppers in Hatch, New Mexico.

    Farmers harvest chile peppers in Hatch, New Mexico. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 December 2015

Despite the move being labeled “historic,” ministers were unable to reach a conclusive agreement on the Doha Round due to disagreements between developed and developing nations.

The member countries of the World Trade Organization have decided to abolish subsidies on farming exports, a decision that will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2016 and is expected to help farmers in developing nations compete more fairly in global markets.

According to the agreement, developed countries will put an end to the subsidies beginning in the new year while developing nations must follow suit by the end of 2018.

The move was announced Saturday after ministers met in Nairobi, Kenya over the past week in the first ever meeting held on the African continent.

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“The decision you have taken today on export competition is truly extraordinary,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said at the closing session of the conference. “It is the WTO’s most significant outcome on agriculture.”

Export subsidies allow vendors to sell their products on the world market at prices lower than international prices, thus giving them an unfair advantage over other nations without subsidies who sell their products at the standard world prices.

Director of the Chilean office of agricultural studies and policies welcomed the decision taken by the WTO, saying it would ensure equal competition for Chilean farmers with their international peers.

The WTO's mission in Kenya was not completely celebrated, however. Many people have criticized the conference’s inability to reach an agreement on the Doha Round of talks which were initiated in the Qatari capital back in 2001.

The Doha goals include increased duty-free access for developing countries; lower tariffs on agricultural products, textiles and clothing; and the reduction of trade-distorting subsidies from developed countries.

Negotiations on the Doha deals have stalled since 2009 due to differences between developed and developing nations, mainly over the lowering of trade barriers worldwide.

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