The World Trade Organization's trade agreement on agriculture : a comparative analysis of South Africa and Nigeria.
Sub-Saharan African nations are highly dependent on the agricultural sector for livelihoods. South Africa and Nigeria depend on agriculture due to the availability of abundant land, labour and natural resources. According to the theory of comparative advantage a state exports the products that it has a comparative advantage in and imports those where it does not have a comparative advantage. This is facilitated by international trade. International trade is defined as trade among nations that enables a nation to buy certain products that it cannot produce from other nations at a cheaper rate. Furthermore, it is expected that every sovereign state would be able to provide not only food and water but also good access to sufficient food and water to its people. Section 27.1b of Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution of 1996 and Article 16 of Nigeria’s Constitution of 1999 enshrine this provision. A number of factors impact food security. The first is international trade. This is spelt out in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). The agreement establishing the WTO is commonly known as the “Marrakesh Agreement.” It was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco on the 15th of April, 1994, at the end of the Uruguay Round of Multiple Trade Negotiations. The AoA consists of three pillars: market access, export subsidies and domestic support .Market access requires all parties to the AoA to remove non-tariff barriers which comprise of import quotas and restrictions and convert them to tariffs; a process known as ‘tariffication’. States are also obliged to reduce export subsidies at the same time as increasing their imports. Domestic support, states are to remove subsidy it gives to its people a process that increases the price of goods. Another factor is trade liberalization. This study examines the effects of WTO agricultural trade liberalization on food security and the mechanisms available to address this issue. It focuses on the food security implications of the WTO AoA and asserts that the AoA favours agricultural producers in developed countries. The study seeks to ascertain the extent to which the realization of the objectives of the agreement will promote food security by looking into the abovementioned three pillars and their relationship with food security.
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