The Uruguay Round Agreement On Agriculture

When the agriculture negotiations began, the positions of the EC and the United States were still far apart. To underline its commitment to liberalization, the United States opened the negotiations by unrealistically calling for the “zero zero” option. It was proposed in July 1987 that the 1947 GATT initially applied to agriculture but was incomplete, and the signatory states (or “contracting parties”) excluded this sector from the scope of the principles set out in the general agreement. During the period 1947-1994, members were allowed to use export subsidies for primary agricultural products and to impose import restrictions under certain conditions, so that major agricultural raw materials faced trade barriers in unusual proportions in other sectors. The road to a fair, market-oriented agricultural trade system has therefore been difficult and time-consuming; and the negotiations were finally concluded during the Uruguay Round. Agriculture has a special status in WTO agreements and trade agreements (signed in 1994 and entered into force on 1 January 1995), with the sector having a specific agreement, the agriculture agreement, whose provisions prevail. In addition, some provisions of the agreement on the application of plant protection measures (SPS) also concern agricultural production and trade. The same applies to the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) with respect to the protection of geographical denominations. In addition, the provisions of the agreement on agriculture are complemented by the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (OTC) and by technical assistance mechanisms. This chapter presents the context of the Convention on Agriculture. He gives a brief overview of the history of the GATT and notes that he acknowledges its origin in the 1947 agreement, the reasons for the final extension of the scope of the negotiations to agricultural trade, as well as the countries and issues that dominated the discussions that preceded the agreement. The agricultural negotiations under the Uruguay Round were not easy, as the broad scope of the negotiations and their political sensitivity inevitably took a long time to reach agreement on the new rules and it took a great deal of technical work to create solid means to formalize commitments in policy areas beyond the scope of previous GATT practice. The agreement on agriculture and the agreement on the application of health and plant health measures were negotiated in parallel and a decision on the possible negative impacts of the reform programme on the least developed developing countries and net food-importing developing countries was also part of the overall outcome.