Azerbaijan Strengthens Its Position on Agricultural Issues with WTO Member States

Business Materials 15 April 2008 14:52 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 15 April/ corr. Trend I. Khalilova/ Azerbaijan intends to strengthen its position during talks with World Trade Organization (WTO) on agricultural issues, said Heydar Babayev, the minister of economic development of Azerbaijan and Head of the State Commission on Preparation for the WTO Admission.

"Our partners on bilateral and multilateral talks are well aware of the importance of food security both for Azerbaijan and other countries," the minister said. "Earlier we were able to make concessions, but now I am sure that the volume of subsidies for the agrarian sector cannot be less than 10%," he said.

According to WTO requirements, the country can introduce 10% subsidies from GDP in agriculture once it is admitted into the organization as a developing country.

The minister did not rule out the impact possibilities of this process on the development of talks with WTO member-states due to the government's plans to increase the subsidies for agriculture within food security.

"If Azerbaijan's membership in WTO and in any other international organization creates obstacles for any sector of economy, we will consider this membership once again," Babayev said.

The fifth round of talks between Azerbaijan and WTO working group will be held on 6 May in Geneva. At present, the delegation list to take part in the talks is being determined and the minister, due to its importance, will also attend the talks

The government once again extended tax cuts for the agricultural sector for the third time so that the farmers can withstand competition in the market in the case of an increase in agricultural products. Such cuts will be introduced in the future including those to expire this year. The subsidies made up 49% for the first year due to the agricultural debt amortization with the figure totaling to 13-14% for the following years.

Azerbaijan will have to protect its interests during the talks before such WTO member-states including U.S. and European Union countries. EU, one of the largest exporters of agricultural product worldwide, proposes to decrease the custom dues introduced by Azerbaijan.

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