Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures2016 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Target 2.b: Trade restrictions in agricultural markets

Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round.
Average agricultural tariffs in developing Asia are the highest in the world - 15 per cent for East Asia and 23 per cent for South Asia in 2014.

Average prices on agricultural goods vary widely around the world. Agricultural tariffs in developing Asia, for example, are the highest in the world at around 15 per cent for East Asia and 23 per cent for South Asia. In South Asia, the weighted average agricultural prices in 2014 were higher than in 2008. This resulted from an increase in imports of higher-tariff products in the composition of agricultural imports to the region. By comparison, tariffs for manufacturing and natural resources were significantly lower in 2014 (UNCTAD, 2016). Hence the importance of target 2.b2.15 The indicator selected by IAEG-SDG to measure progress towards this target is Percentage change in import and export tariffs on agricultural products.

Table 2.1 presents a matrix of interregional and intraregional market access conditions in the agriculture sector. The 2014 average tariff rates were calculated based on both the most favoured nationCountries cannot normally discriminate between their trading partners.
and preferential rates. Numbers in blue show the change in the average tariff from the 2008 level.

Agricultural exports from sub-Saharan African countries to developed countries and transition economies on average face the lowest tariffs, between 1.4 and 1.8 per cent. Their exports to other developing regions are subject to higher tariffs. However, when compared with their export competitors in different importing regions, the agricultural exports of sub-Saharan African countries face relatively lower tariffs than their competitor exporting regions. Table 2.1. also shows that the average tariff rate applied to agricultural exports of Latin America to East Asia fell by 0.7 per cent between 2008 and 2014.

Table 2.1. Tariff barriers to agricultural exports in 2014 and change from 2008 level (2014 average tariff rate; percentage point change from 2008 level (in bold)) Download data
Exporting region
Developed countriesEast AsiaLatin AmericaSouth AsiaSub-Saharan AfricaTransition countriesW.Asia & N.Africa
Importing regionDeveloped countries10.
East Asia12.
Latin America5.311.12.211.312.91311.7
South Asia37.934.032.16.917.67.920.5
Sub-Saharan Africa12.013.311.
Transition countries10.
W.Asia & N.Africa13.

Between 2008 and 2014, agricultural tariffs have been falling in general, except those linked to imports and exports from South Asia. Together with relatively high tariffs against imports in South Asia, this may suggest that the region is the one least exposed to bilateral or interregional trade agreements with the rest of the world. The same tendency is found in imports and exports from sub-Saharan Africa among other developing country regions, and exports from transition economies.

A large number of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT) aim to ensure food safety for consumers, for example, by setting quality standards and labelling requirements. Other SPS measures and TBT include inspections, quarantine or temporary import prohibitions with a view to protecting the life and health of plants and animals from imported pests and diseases (Farrell, 2013). These measures can have an immediate impact on food security in terms of the utilization and availability of healthy and nutritional food.

Non-tariff barriers may negatively impact food security.

At the same time, however, complying with SPS measures and/or TBT can result in significant costs to domestic producers as well as to foreign producers and exporters, which can increase consumer prices of food in the domestic market. This can reduce affordability of food to low-income groups in the economy, at least in the short term. In addition, compliance requirements related to SPS measures and TBT may delay or complicate the process to import food. Hence measures aiming at food safety could have a second-order impact on food security in terms of access, availability and stability. The authors of A cost-benefit framework for the assessment of non-tariff measures in agro-food trade (van Tongeren et al., 2009) using their cost-benefit analysis framework conclude that the cost to consumers of further tightening certain European Union regulations could surpass potential gains to the initial beneficiaries of such measures.

It is also important to note that SPS measures and TBT for a given agricultural food product applied by a significant importer in world food trade can have a significant, at times damaging, impact on exporters of developing countries. The policy study of Otsuki et al. (2001) shows that European Union standards on aflatoxin levels that go beyond Codex guidelines may prevent up to 2.3 cancer deaths in the European Union per year, but may cost African exporters an annual US$670 million. According to a recent study (Murina and Nicita, 2014), the trade-reducing impact of SPS measures in the European Union can be significantly larger (around US$3 billion) on exporters from low-income countries than on their competitors in other countries.