The world’s trade agenda, and most of America’s trade agenda, show few vital signs and little hope of a recovery in the near term. While small victories may be on the horizon, like beef to China, there are almost no bright spots for agriculture.
India's blockage of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the end of July has stopped dead a deal that would have streamlined customs rules, cut container handling times, guaranteed standard procedures for goods to and from their destinations and reduced paperwork. The structure of the TFA was agreed upon by the WTO members in December of 2013. More importantly, the TFA would have kept hope alive for the WTO. But after the national elections in India, the government changed its mind -- so much for India’s pro-business agenda. Russia is ignoring any semblance of abiding by its WTO obligations, China is imposing import restraints on safe and approved production technologies (e.g. GMO, ractopamine) and smaller nations in Africa and Asia are imposing WTO inconsistent import licensing regimes. The big newer members of the WTO and the developing world are now calling the shots on what the U.S. may export. The WTO, at 20 years of age, has yet to achieve a global trade agreement. The WTO sprang to life on January 1, 1995; replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Unfortunately, at 20, the world may be writing its obituary. The “new” agriculture trade world is much more complicated than duties, quotas and tariffs. Trade is moving to a web of agreements, both government import requirements and commercial requests (e.g. animal welfare, organic) that are not necessarily based on science