Domestic support regimes for agriculture are governed by the agriculture agreement, which came into force in 1995 and was negotiated during the Uruguay Round (1986-1994). The long-term goal of the AoA is to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system and to initiate a reform process through negotiations on promised commitments and safeguards and by defining more effective and operationally effective rules and disciplines. Agriculture is therefore special, because the sector has its own agreement, the provisions of which are given priority. The agreement has been criticized by civil society groups for reducing customs protection for small farmers, an important source of income in developing countries, while allowing rich countries to continue subsidizing agriculture in their own countries. While the volume of world agricultural exports has increased significantly in recent decades, its growth rate has remained below that of industrial enterprises, resulting in a steady decline in the share of agriculture in world merchandise trade. In 1998, agricultural trade accounted for 10.5% of total merchandise trade, taking into account trade in services, while agriculture`s share of world exports was 8.5%. However, in the field of world trade, agriculture still lays ahead of sectors such as mining products, automotive products, chemicals, textiles and clothing, or iron and steel. Among agricultural products marketed internationally, food accounts for almost 80% of the total. The other main category of agricultural products is raw materials. Since the mid-1980s, trade in processed agricultural products and other quality agricultural products has grown much faster than trade in staple foodstuffs, such as cereals. The Haberler report of 1958 stressed the importance of minimizing the impact of agricultural subsidies on competitiveness and recommended replacing price support with additional non-production-related direct payments, and expected discussions to be ongoing on green box subsidies. But it is only recently that this change has become the heart of the reform of the global agricultural system.

[1] Although agriculture is still covered by the GATT, there were significant differences in the rules for primary agricultural products as opposed to industrial products before the WTO. The 1947 GATT allowed countries to use export subsidies for primary agricultural products, while export subsidies for industrial products were prohibited. The only conditions were that agricultural export subsidies should not be used to cover more than a fair share of world merchandise exports (Article XVI:3 of GATT). The GATT rules also allowed countries to resort, under certain conditions, to import restrictions (for example. B import quota), particularly where these restrictions were necessary to impose effective measures to limit domestic production (Article XI, paragraph 2, sub c) of the GATT). This derogation was also conditional on the fact that a minimum share of imports relative to domestic production was maintained. In principle, agriculture is subject to all WTO agreements and agreements on trade in goods, including the 1994 GATT agreements and WTO agreements on issues such as tariff assessment, import authorisation procedures, due diligence, emergency measures, subsidies and technical barriers to trade.

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