Agriculture is often the economic driving force in developing countries. WTO statistics show that agriculture accounts for over one-third of export earnings for almost 50 developing countries, and for about 40 of them this sector accounts for over half of export earnings.
However, significant agricultural subsidies provided by OECD country governments to their farmers compromises the ability of developing country farmers to participate in global agricultural trade reducing their income and profit streams and their ability to escape poverty.
At the same time, consumers in OECD countries are denied the benefits of the lower prices food and agricultural products resulting from a competitive marketplace while as tax payers they are forced to subsidize high-cost and often environmentally damaging production. Barriers to agricultural imports also remain high in both developed and many developing countries, creating obstacles not only to North-South trade but also to South-South trade.
The World Bank's Agricultural Trade Group is committed to a pro-development, pro-poor global trading system for agriculture. As part of that commitment the World Bank provides technical assistance and policy advice to its clients, engages in joint analytical work and knowledge sharing, and works through partnerships.
The goal is to ensure that developing country clients have the skills and capacity to participate in the global marketplace on an equal footing, to negotiate both with partners and in international fora, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), so that they can maximize their opportunities in the global agricultural marketplace.