The Politics of Export Subsidies Under the WTO Framework: Impact on African Agricultural Trade?

30 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010

Date Written: June 29, 2010


Export subsidies have for long been decried in international trade. While they have been among the highly prioritized disciplines in multilateral trade legislation negotiations under the WTO, not much headway has been made regarding establishment of clear delimitations of their regulation. The ongoing WTO negotiations touching on export subsidies have not changed much the difficulty regarding the pivotal questions as to whether they should be totally proscribed and, if not, how then to ensure that they are not abused by those with the capacity to do so. At the moment, major trading blocs remain heavily engaged in export subsidy programmes which, despite the inexactness of the obtaining statistical computations, it is agreed, continue to have international trade distorting effects. In the politicization of rationale and justification advanced by the major trading blocs in WTO multilateral negotiations in defence of continued export subsidy provisions, developing and least developed nations continue to bear the brunt as they remain far outmatched as a result of their inability from resource constraint to up the sale of their own agricultural goods on the international market with comparable export subsidy programmes of their own. With an already dismal percentage of a share in international trade and having the world’s poorest economic base, Africa particularly remains perhaps the block most affected by continued export subsidies. This paper seeks to highlight that the prevalence of export subsidies from major trading blocs, make a mockery of the underlying legal ethos within the WTO framework for the need to help developed nations raise their standards of living through a free and fair international trade machinery, and that for Africa in particular, this situation is unsustainable if these underlying goals the WTO ostensibly wishes to achieve as part of its broader aspirations are not to be put to a lie.

Presented at the SIEL 2010 Conference in Barcelona.

Keywords: WTO negotiations, Export subsidies, African Developing Countries, International Trade Law, Politicization, International Rule-Making, Agreement on Agriculture, AoA, Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures

JEL Classification: F02, F13, F14, K33, F15, F42, F43

Suggested Citation

Kapulula, Chisomo, The Politics of Export Subsidies Under the WTO Framework: Impact on African Agricultural Trade? (June 29, 2010). Society of International Economic Law (SIEL), Second Biennial Global Conference, University of Barcelona, July 8-10, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Chisomo Kapulula (Contact Author)

University of Bremen ( email )

Universitaetsallee GW I
Bremen, D-28334

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