Trade Agreements Agricultural Subsidies

The WTO agreement on agriculture aims to create “a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system”. It contains rules that apply to all WTO members to allow for significant gradual reductions in agricultural support and protection. The agreement was part of the results of the Uruguay Round and was a decisive step towards a greater market orientation of world agriculture. The original GATT, although for agricultural trade, contained loopholes. For example, it has allowed countries to use and subsidize certain non-tariff measures such as import quotas. Agricultural trade has been severely distorted, including through the use of export subsidies that would not normally have been allowed for industrial products. The first multilateral agreement on the sector was concluded in the framework of the Uruguay Round. This was an important first step towards order, fair competition and a less distorted sector. It was implemented over a six-year period (and is still being implemented by developing countries during the ten-year period), which began in 1995. The Uruguay Round agreement provided for a commitment to pursue reform through further negotiations. These were introduced in 2000, as required by the Agriculture Agreement. Under the agriculture agreement, WTO members must reduce their subsidized exports.

But some importing countries depend on the supply of subsidized cheap food from major industrialized countries. These include some of the poorest countries and, although their agricultural sector may be boosted by rising prices due to reduced export subsidies, they may need temporary assistance to make the necessary adjustments to cope with higher-priced imports and, ultimately, to export. A specific ministerial decision defines specific objectives and measures for the provision of food aid and agricultural development aid. It also refers to the possibility of support from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to finance commercial food imports. The current rules were negotiated during the Uruguay Round (1986-1994), which resulted in the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization. The Marrakesh Agreement is indeed a series of agreements on different aspects of trade rules. These include a revision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1947, as well as agreements on intellectual property, dispute settlement, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary regulations and, in particular, agriculture. The peace provisions of the agreement aim to reduce the likelihood of disputes or disputes over agricultural subsidies over a period of nine years, until the end of 2003. WTO members have taken steps to reform the agricultural sector and tackle high subsidies and trade barriers that distort agricultural trade. The overall goal is to create a fairer trading system that improves market access and improves the livelihoods of farmers around the world. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which entered into force in 1995, is an important step in reforming agricultural trade and making it fairer and more competitive. The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development monitors the implementation of the agreement.

The current round of negotiations was launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. The “Doha Round” or the “Doha Development Agenda” focused on further trade liberalization, while facilitating the integration of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, into the multilateral system of the WTO. Despite the EU`s efforts, agricultural negotiations have stalled. In particular, developments in economic development have increased the importance of some developing countries as exporters and important players in agricultural trade. In particular, negotiations are stalled because some WTO members are unwilling to reform their agricultural policies. For more information on the Department of Commerce`s efforts to enforce subsidies, please visit the Subsidies Enforcement Office website. . . .

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