General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade


The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ( GATT ) concluded in 1994 and led to the constitution of the WTO. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement replacing the GATT and therefore widening the trading system into several new countries, notably trade in services and rational belongings and farther heightening conformity with many-sided trade understandings. One of these understandings is the understanding on agribusiness.

The WTO ‘s Agreement on Agriculture is an international pact of the WTO and covers the present regulations and committednesss on agribusiness. It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the GATT and entered into force with the constitution of the WTO on January 1, 1995. The WTO ‘s Agreement on Agriculture is said to be a major measure towards fairer competition and a less deformed agricultural sector as compared to the old commissariats with regard to agricultural trade under the GATT. However it has been argued that this understanding is one of the most controversial issue of the WTO docket in the sense that it benefits merely to the developing states.

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Agricultural Trade prior to the WTO

Although agricultural policies were covered by the GATT, it contained many loopholes. One of the chief defects was the disparity in the regulations that applied to agricultural primary merchandises as opposed to industrial merchandises. For illustration the GATT 1947 permitted states to utilize export subsidies on agricultural merchandises whereas export subsidies on industrial merchandises were prohibited which led to high deformations in agricultural trade.

In add-on, while it allowed states to utilize non-tariff steps such as import quotas under certain conditions, in pattern states were enforcing barriers to merchandise without fulfilling these conditions. This resulted in the proliferation of hindrances to agricultural trade, including by agencies of import prohibitions, quotas puting maximal degree of imports, maximal export monetary values and so on. Therefore there was a rush in unjust trading patterns among states which was contrary to the aim of the WTO.

Agricultural Trade under the WTO

All this led to dialogues on agricultural trade in the Uruguay Round with a position to turn to the jobs of the agribusiness policies under the GATT strengthen the regulations and committednesss environing agricultural trade liberalization. It was concluded that agricultural policies should non merely address import entree jobs which was the chief focal point under GATT, but it should besides cover with issues impacting trade in agribusiness, including domestic agricultural policies and the subsidization of exports. Clearer regulations for healthful and phytosanitary steps were besides considered.

These dialogues have resulted in four chief parts of the understanding ; Agreement on Agriculture itself ; the grants and committednesss members are to set about on market entree, domestic support and export subsidies ; the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary steps ; and the Ministerial Decision refering least developed and Net-Food-Importing developing states. Overall the consequences provide a model for the long-run reform of agricultural trade and domestic policies over the old ages to come. Members besides agreed to go on the reform through new dialogues.

The Preamble which refers to the Ministerial Declaration on the Uruguay Round and the Mid-Term Review of the Uruguay Round and provides for a figure of issues. The long term aim of the understanding is to set up a just and market-oriented agricultural trading system by supplying for significant progressive decreases in agricultural support and protection sustained over an in agreement period of clip, ensuing in rectifying and forestalling limitations and deformations in universe agricultural markets.

The aim of the understanding is to beef up regulations to better predictability and stableness for importing and exporting states which involves originating a reform procedure through dialogues on support and protection. Besides it aims at doing specific committednesss on market entree, domestic support, export competition, and healthful and phytosanitary issues

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture besides established common regulations in three wide countries of agribusiness and trade policy: market entree, domestic support and export subsidies. These three pillars remain cardinal to the argument on farther reform of agricultural trade policies in the on-going Doha Round dialogues.

Market Access

It refers to the decrease and riddance of non-tariff barriers to merchandise by WTO member-states. It includes tariffication, duty decrease and entree chances. Tariffication means that all non-tariff barriers such as quotas, variable levies, voluntary export restraints minimal import monetary values, discretional licensing, province trading steps, voluntary restraint understandings etc. necessitate to be abolished and converted into an tantamount duty. Duties were bound, intending that a state can non increase them one-sidedly.

Ordinary duties including those ensuing from their tariffication are to be reduced by an norm of 36 % with minimal rate of decrease of 15 % for each duty point over a 6 twelvemonth period for developed states. Developing states are required to cut down duties by 24 % in 10 old ages.

Domestic policies that do hold a direct consequence on production and trade have to be cut back. The AoA structures domestic support into three classs or “ boxes ” : a Green Box, an Amber Box and a Blue Box. In the Green Box measures with minimum impact on trade can be used freely. They include authorities services such as research, disease control, substructure and nutrient security.

They besides include payments made straight to husbandmans that do non excite production, such as certain signifiers of direct income support, aid to assist husbandmans restructure agribusiness, and direct payments under environmental and regional aid programmes. The Amber Box contains domestic subsidies that authoritiess have agreed to cut down but non extinguish. The Blue Box contains subsidies which can be increased without bound, so long as payments are linked to production-limiting plans.

Particular and Differential Treatment ( S & A ; D ) commissariats are besides available for developing state members. These include purchases for and gross revenues from nutrient security stocks at administered monetary values provided that the subsidy to manufacturers is included in computation of AMS. Developing states are permitted untargeted subsidised nutrient distribution to run into demands of the urban and rural hapless. Besides excluded for developing states are investing subsidies that are by and large available to agriculture and agricultural input subsidies by and large available to low income and resource hapless husbandmans in these states.

Export Subsidie

The Agreement contains commissariats sing member ‘s committedness to cut down Export Subsidies. Developed states are required to cut down their export subsidy outgo by 36 % and volume by 21 % in 6 old ages, in equal episode ( from 1986-1990 degrees ) . For developing states the per centum cuts are 24 % and 14 % severally in equal one-year episodes over 10 old ages. The Agreement besides specifies that for merchandises non capable to export subsidy decrease committednesss, no such subsidies can be granted in the hereafter.

Controversies around the WTO Agreement on Agriculture ( AoA )

The WTO ‘s Agreement on Agriculture ( AoA ) that came into consequence in 1995 has sparked contention among agro-exporting every bit good as agro-importing states. Power dealingss among those making the negotiating has contributed strongly to the deadlock of each of the most recent the Ministerial dialogues. One of those contentions concerns developed and developing economic systems.

An analysis of the experience with execution of the Agreement on Agriculture raises uncertainties about the effectivity of the model created in the Uruguay Round to turn to issues of protectionism in agribusiness and to set up new regulations to liberalise agricultural trade and production policies. From the get downing it was widely felt that merely small liberalization was really achieved, and most to a great extent protected merchandises seem to hold experienced no liberalization at all. The chief industrialised states retained policies of support and protection with a high grade of economic deformation. In add-on these developed states in the early 1990s have been organizing the manner that subsidies are provided in order to avoid decrease committednesss.

In the European Community ( EC ) the procedure of mandatory transition of nontariff steps under the proviso of market entree has led to prohibitively high duties. It besides led to industrialised states to cut down the usage of export subsidies and to replace them with exempted direct payments. The EU has increasingly moved domestic subsidies from the Amber Box to the Blue and Green Boxes. There was small alteration in the overall subsidisation of the export market.

In the United States the Uruguay Round failed to convey about any important decrease in market entree barriers and domestic subsidies for traditionally supported merchandises. The new regulations proved ineffective and did non restrain the United States from well increasing the degree of domestic support by presenting four back-to-back bundles of market loss aid payments in 1998-2001 or from consolidating and intrenching these exigency bundles and adding another bed of domestic support through new statute law in 2002. The US Farm Bill, 2002 provides for dramatic additions in subsidies to domestic manufacturers.

The determination to relieve decoupled income support that is where payments are non related to production, monetary value, or the usage of factors of production, from decrease committednesss on the evidences that it consequences in no or minimum deformation in trade and production is a major defect in the design of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. In the existent universe full decoupling is unattainable, and about all support measures that consequence in payments to husbandmans have more than a minimum consequence on trade and production.

In add-on the understanding fails to recognize the cardinal differences between agricultural systems in developed and developing states and uses a one-size-fits-all attack. For illustration, it overlooks the fact that agribusiness is the chief beginning of support for the bulk of the population in developing states and that the sector is a major subscriber to national income. The AoA fails to know apart between the different demands of diverse developing states and provides no warrant of nutrient security. In contrast, the manner subsidies are classified, the proviso of particular precautions ( SSG ) work in favor of manufacturers in developed states.

The current trade-negotiation unit of ammunition of the World Trade Organization ( WTO ) is the Doha Development Round or Doha Development Agenda ( DDA ) which commenced in November 2001. The chief aim of this unit of ammunition was to unbend out some of the cricks in agricultural trade. This activity which accounts for merely 8 % of the universe ware trade is the most to a great extent distorted by improper policies.

The curates declared in Doha that the demands and involvements of developing states lay at the bosom of the work plan they approved. This is because in many hapless states, agribusiness non merely accounts for a big portion of gross domestic merchandise ( GDP ) , but is besides the primary beginning of employment, nutrient and support for the bulk of the population. This is in contrast to the state of affairs in the universe ‘s two biggest agricultural exporters, the European Union ( EU ) and the United States ( US ) , where agribusiness employs a bantam per centum of the population and makes merely a little part to the economic system.

Yet it is the EU and US that give most protection to agribusiness, utilizing high duties and immense subsidies to screen their manufacturers from competition. The farm subsidies doled out by the industrialised states, coupled with duty barriers maintained at conscienceless degrees, have historically depressed the universe monetary values of temperate zone agricultural merchandises and badly affected the economic systems of many developing states.

The Doha unit of ammunition stalled on July 29 2008, after neglecting to make a via media on agricultural import regulations. While the United States was asked by the European Union ( EU ) and the development states, led by Brazil and India, to do a more generous offer for cut downing trade-distorting domestic support for agribusiness, the US continued to reason for large cuts in farm import duties to open up markets for its husbandmans. It asked the developing states to make-up a more generous offer for diminishing trade-distorting domestic support. This demand was rejected by EU, Japan and India.

In the instance of Brazil – US Farm subsidies, Brazil alleged that since 1999, the US has frequently exceeded its WTO disbursement bounds for to a great extent trade falsifying agricultural subsidies. Brazil farther claimed that Washington surpassed its $ 19.1 billion entitlement for such ‘amber box ‘ disbursement in 2000 to 2002 and 2004-2005 every bit good as the anterior $ 19.8 billion ceiling in 1999. The difference deciding panel of the WTO ruled that the US remained in misdemeanor of universe trade regulations even after it repealed its ‘Step 2 ‘ payment to cotton Millss and exporters in 2006.

Therefore the WTO AoA has led to a decrease in duty protections for little husbandmans – a cardinal beginning of income for developing states. At the same clip, the AoA has allowed rich states to go on paying their husbandmans massive subsidies which developing states can non afford. A dead end has been reached on agricultural duties and subsidies in the Doha Round due to the adamant places of some developed state members.

Another job faced by developing states under the current understanding is dumping. It is argued that the AoA ‘s domestic support system presently allows Europe and the USA to pass $ 380 billion every twelvemonth on agricultural subsidies entirely. It is frequently still argued that subsidies are needed to protect little husbandmans but, harmonizing to the World Bank, more than half of EU support goes to 1 % of manufacturers while in the US 70 % of subsidies go to 10 % of manufacturers, chiefly agri-businesses.

The consequence of these subsidies is to deluge planetary markets with below-cost trade goods, dejecting monetary values and underselling manufacturers in hapless states, a pattern known as dumping. In the US, it is calculated that over the past 10 old ages, corn has been sold in 3rd markets at some 5-35 % less than its cost of production, cotton 20-55 % less than the cost of production, wheat 20-35 % , rice 15-20 % and soya beans 8-30 % . This state of affairs besides prevailed in the EU. The consequence of dumping can be lay waste toing on developing states since it ha the consequence of dejecting universe monetary values, displacing developing state exports in 3rd markets and undermining domestic production.

For illustration dumped EU confectionery has had serious effects on sugar mills in Swaziland. Swaziland produces sugar at less than half the cost of the EU and yet it is unable to vie with EU confectionary imports. Sugar production plays an of import function in the Swaziland economic system. In 1995-6, sugar cane accounted for 53 % of agricultural end product and 34 % of agricultural pay labor, while sugar milling constituted 37 % of fabrication end product and 22 % of fabrication pay labor.

However export subsidies given to EU confectionary makers to promote planetary gross revenues have enabled them to undersell monetary values and cut down the export market for confectionary manufactured in Swaziland. As southern African mercantile establishments have switched to purchasing cheaper, dumped EU confectionary Swaziland ‘s confectionary mill has gone out of concern. Already the dumping of EU sugar merchandises has led to the loss of some 16,000 occupations in the Swazi sugar industry and 20,000 occupations indirectly linked to the industry, such as packaging and conveyance.

In the Agreement on Agriculture the chief industrialised states retained good intervention for themselves in many ways, while giving a lower degree of flexibleness to the developing states by manner of particular and differential ( S & A ; D ) intervention. Although it enabled the developing states to fend off force per unit areas for liberalisation, S & A ; D intervention proved to be a more powerful negotiating tool for the industrialised states by assisting them act upon the development states to demand fewer existent reforms.

Cardinal Reforms Deductions

With all these troubles faced by developing states, it is of import to convey about cardinal reforms in the understanding. Developing states have to invent new schemes to turn to their jobs in the on-going Doha Round dialogues. They have to concentrate their attending on obtaining equal and just intervention with respects to developed economic systems.

One of import issue that must be addressed is the trade-distorting policies used by developed economic systems. Domestic support which is contrary to just trade patterns must be reduced. It has been besides suggested that decoupled income support and other direct payments, which have been exempted under the Green Box be limited merely to little husbandmans. Such a standard would extinguish an of import defect of the understanding.

This implies that much reforms must be brought to the understanding in order to accomplish the above aims and to let unvarying application of the regulations to the full WTO rank. The job of dumping besides must be addressed by the understanding so as to forbid dumping of agricultural merchandises in developing states.

The understanding should besides take into history the differences in the agricultural systems in developed and developing economic systems. The dependance on agricultural sector for developed and developing economic systems differ significantly and therefore different commissariats have to be made. Besides different degree of protection has to be afforded to developed and developing economic systems.


While the WTO Agreement on Agriculture was introduced with a position to advance fairer competition and to better market entree and cut down trade-distorting subsidies in agribusiness, it still has many defects particularly vis-a-vis developing states. It fails to distinguish between the agricultural systems in developed and developing states, it offers developed states an advantage in the sense that they are able to offer high sum of subsidies to local agricultural industries which developing states can non afford to make, it forces developed states to cut down duties protection for little husbandmans.

All this coupled with the involuntariness of developing states to conform to the commissariats of the understanding and holding fall backing to trade-distorting patterns in agribusiness has made it of import to reexamine the understanding and farther beef up the regulations and commissariats and to convey deep reforms in the understanding.

Besides the recent dialogues have non concluded in did non ensue in any advancement. Therefore developing states have to happen new ways to obtain just intervention in the sector of international agricultural trade. In the absence of understanding on deep reform of universe agribusiness states would hold continue to run within the model of the WTO where powerful economic involvements can act upon results.


  1.  World Trade Organisation Legal texts: the WTO understandings [ Online ] Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: // # aAgreement, ( Last Modified March 2009 ) , Accessed April 11, 2010
  2.  World Trade Organisation Agricultural Trade: Introduction [ Online ] Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: // # ag_trade, ( Last Modified June 2003 ) , Accessed April 11, 2010
  3.  World Trade Organisation Agriculture: fairer markets for husbandmans [ Online ] Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: //, ( Last Modified: September 2008 ) , Accessed April 11, 2010
  4.  ActionAid and Azione Aiuto ( 2003 ) The WTO Agreement on Agriculture [ Online ] ActionAid, Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: //, Accessed April 12, 2010
  5.  Anwarul Hoda and Ashok Gulati, ( 2008 ) WTO Negotiations on Agriculture and Developing Countries, IFPRI Issue Brief 48
  6.  World Trade Organisation The Doha Declaration explained [ Online ] Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Last modified: October 2005 ) , Last entrees: April 10, 2010
  7.  Trinity College of Dublin, The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture [ Online ] , Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: //, ( Last modified: June 2005 ) , Accessed April 11, 2010

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. (2018, Apr 15). Retrieved from