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Main policy areas


Amber box

  • Domestic support to livestock industries remains relatively limited in both developed and developing countries;
  • In some developed countries, emergency payments to grain producers in the context of low prices and to livestock producers in the wake of localised natural disasters have served to support the meat industries;
  • Price support schemes provide significant support to the livestock sectors (beef and pork) in Japan and the Rep. of Korea; their respective PSEs for beef (OECD, 2000) are 32 percent and 68 percent, respectively, while those for pork are 58 percent and 47 percent.
  • Any reduction in the “de minimis” provision (10 percent of the base agricultural production value for developing countries) is unlikely to have much impact on livestock industries since developing countries provide very limited support to these industries (most support classified as green box).

Green box

  • Expenditures on research/veterinary and other livestock service industries are not production and trade distorting, hence not subject to reduction.
  • The EU proposal to allow direct subsidies related to animal welfare costs to be included under Green box provisions could lead to higher overall subsidies to the EU. Since third-country exporters would not be required to adhere to EU standards, this proposal appears not to be directly trade-distorting

Blue box

  • Applies only to the EU and other European countries providing direct income support to beef and sheepmeat producers (decoupled, production-limiting payments). This support replaced market distorting government stockholding policies (for beef); however, the overall policy impact is to keep producers on farms, while encouraging extensive agriculture.

Minimum access quotas: TRQ’s

  • TRQ’s are applied by many countries, particularly for beef. The number of TRQ’s for meat products is estimated at 249, second only to fruits and vegetables.
  • Out-of quota duties tend to be prohibitively high, ranging from double the import duty (Poland) to over 100 percent (EU). Average out-of quota duties for meat are estimated by the OECD at 89 percent.
  • Quotas assigned to specific countries or country groupings (i.e. ACP countries) tend to lock out new exporting countries.
  • The simple average fill rate for meat products ranges around 60 percent in the 1995-97 period. This fill rate has increased since that time. Poultry has the highest fill rate among meat products with a four-year average (at 88 percent) that is greater than the average for all products (78 percent). The fill rate for pig meat is the lowest among the meat products (70 percent) while that of beef is the most variable. The lowest fill rates were observed for Hungary and Poland.
  • Administration of TRQs (beef in the Rep. of Korea and pork and poultry in the Philippines) has occasionally given rise to disputes; however, none has been referred to the WTO.
  • In some cases, such as the United States, scope for increased trade (particularly during herd rebuilding) could result from an expansion of the quota. In addition, market access for meat products in the EU remains constrained by quotas as well as preferential access.
  • In general, any moves to expand quota levels while reducing both in- and out-of-quota duties would facilitate meat trade.


  • Bound tariffs remain high for meat products, particularly in developing countries where bound tariffs can exceed 100 percent. Within the meat products, the average tariff for beef is the highest while that for sheep meat is the lowest.
  • In-quota tariffs are considerably lower than out-of-quota rates and average tariffs. But, with an average of about 20 percent, in-quota tariffs remain a constraint to trade. In addition to being very high in certain countries (EU beef/sheep meat, Japan pork, Mexico poultry), these tariffs contain substantial tariff peaks. For example, tariff rates on beef can range up to 169 percent in the EU, while Japan can import a tariff of 395 percent on pigmeat.
  • Meanwhile over-quota tariffs in many developed countries are prohibitively high (see above).
  • Tariff escalation appears to be a problem for meat products, particularly in meat-exporting developed countries, for example, the EU.

Special (and regular) agricultural safeguards

  • Several countries have reserved the right to impose SSG provisions for meat products. In Japan, in 2001, the safeguard for pigmeat was triggered for the 4th time.
  • While the safeguards are trade distorting, they protect countries from import surges. In many cases, however, developing countries put in place bound tariffs (or ceilings) for meat imports in which case they don’t have access to the SSG. In most cases bound tariffs are high enough to make the SSG unnecessary.
  • Increasing recourse to countervailing duties (S. Africa), and anti-dumping (Mexico and Argentina) actions have been reported over the past few years. The extensive procedural requirements and conditions for using these measures make it difficult for developing countries to utilise these provisions.

Export subsidies

  • Direct subsidies (particularly for beef) create distortions in livestock and meat markets. In 2000, the WTO quantity ceiling on subsidised meat exports totalled 2.3 million tons, or 14 percent of world trade. In the case of beef, subsidised volume limits totalled 1.2 million, or 19 percent of global beef trade.
  • Export subsidy ceiling have been binding only for EU beef (in most years) and Hungary.
  • Indirect subsidies (through increased domestic support for feed inputs) benefit livestock industries in developed countries through lower input costs.

Export credits

  • Intensively used by the US, particularly to move meat products to Mexico and the Rep. of Korea.

State trading enterprises

  • Not an issue for livestock trade.

Export restrictions and prohibitions

  • Not a serious issue for livestock trade, though measures have been applied recently in cases of animal disease outbreaks.

Food security

  • Not an issue for livestock trade except for the adverse impact that subsidized meat exports have on livestock industries in developing countries.

Food safety

  • SPS/TBT measures are expected to have a large impact on growth in meat exports, particularly from developing countries.
  • Animal disease outbreaks have led countries to impose import bans and stricter sanitary requirements as well as other technical barriers, such as requirements on labelling and animal traceability schemes. Many of these food safety policy measures and regulations focused on ensuring food quality will persist and escalate in complexity. This raises the cost of exporting, particularly from developing countries.
  • The issue of food safety, including the use of the “precautionary principle”, should be examined within the context of the SPS and TBT agreements, ensuring an adequate balance between food safety and open markets.

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