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June 2004

Announcement of a new publication

Special Ministerial Conference on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States

Report and Background Documents

Rome, Italy 12 March 1999

Most Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are net agricultural importers. As a group they are net exporters by a narrow margin and their agricultural exports tend to be highly concentrated in a small number of commodities and markets. While the international trading system has not given Small Island Developing States any particular consideration as a group, most of them receive preferential access to the major developed country markets for selected commodities through special arrangements such as the EU's Lomé convention for Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP); and the USA's Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI); and/or through the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries. The benefits accruing from the various preferential trading schemes are concentrated among a few countries and a few commodities, and in many cases the Small Island Developing States have not been able to fully exploit the opportunities available to them.

Most Small Island Developing States do not have a comparative advantage in agricultural production overall; however, the trade patterns of several of them show a comparative advantage in particular agricultural commodities, and in fishery and forestry products. There is an untapped knowledge base in developing countries, not only with regard to agricultural exports but also to import subsititution, and there are successful examples of export diversification and growth from among the Small Island Developing States. Under Lomé IV and other international agreements of interest to Small Island Developing States, provisions are made for technical assistance not only for raising the general awareness of the agreements but also for the development and diversification of products for export in order to expand the benefits from the agreements.

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