Indicators for the selection of agricultural special products: some empirical evidence


Produced by: (2007)


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This note summarises empirical research conducted by FAO and ICTSD on the proposed special products mechanism for tariff lines in developing countries. Both organisations have undertaken country studies using a wide range of indicators, in an effort to assist developing country governments to identify the products which might most appropriately be designated as 'special'.

The findings suggest that the appropriate number of special products (SPs) ranges from six to twenty. On average, the products identified as SPs represent 10 percent of agricultural tariff lines. However, out of twelve studies for which data is available at the six digit level, only five have identified a number of SP tariff lines below the 8 percent envisaged as a maximum by Ambassador Falconer.

In total, the fourteen studies identified more than forty different product categories as SPs. While several of them are specific to one or two countries, fourteen products are common to at l east one third or more of the studies. These products include chicken, milk and dairy products, rice, sugar, bovine and pork meat, corn, potatoes, sheep and goat meat, wheat, vegetable oils, tomatoes, onions and garlic, and beans and peas. Chicken is the most commonly identified product, being recommended as a potential SP by all the ICTSD studies, and is followed by dairy products (identified in twelve studies out of fourteen), rice and sugar (identified in eleven studies).

On average, the SPs selected account for less than one quarter of the value of total agricultural imports. Again, these figures show a lot of variation among the different studies. In several instances, only a few products account for the bulk of the volume of imports of SP products.

 Produced by: (2007)