last release: March 2017
- On 7 February, a senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture of Argentina stated that the ethanol blending mandate may be expanded from 12 to 25 percent between 2018 and 2020. Such policy change would boost both the maize and sugar sectors while easing Argentina's dependency on natural gas imports.
- The recently-concluded EPA between the European Union and SADC countries opened duty-free access for 80 000 metric tonnes of European ethanol, to be implemented annually.
ACROSS THE BOARD
- On 5 February, the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council in China released its annual policy statement in "Opinions on Deepening Supply-side Structural Reform in Agriculture and Accelerating the Cultivation of New Growth Engines in Agriculture and Rural Areas". Commonly known as the "Number One Central Document", the statement highlights the objectives of clarifying property rights, strengthening rural infrastructure, increasing farmers' incomes and ensuring an effective supply system. In the grains and oilseeds sectors, this latter objective will be pursued to address the continued oversupply of maize, notably by decreasing maize acreage, redirecting production and stocks to animal feed, incentivizing farmers to switch to soybean cultivation and encouraging value-addition. The minimum procurement prices for wheat and rice will also be maintained and adjusted based on market factors in order to "establish a reasonable price parity".
- WTO's first significant multilateral trade deal, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force on 22 February. Full implementation of the TFA is projected to trim trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent, with developing countries having the most to gain. By simplifying import and export procedures, customs formalities and transit requirements, the TFA will reduce the time needed to trade goods. A TFA Facility will also ensure that developing countries receive the assistance needed to reap the full benefits of the TFA during the implementation phase.