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The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture

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1 The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture
Lecture 24 Economics of Food Markets Alan Matthews

2 Lecture objectives to understand the reasons for the disarray in agricultural trade prior to the Uruguay Round agreement to know the outcome of the UR Agreement on Agriculture and to be able to critically evaluate its impact to understand the implications for the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy of the Uruguay Round Agreement

3 Reading Short extract from WTO Trading into the Future
O’Connor legal analysis Various books and papers in the supplementary reading list

4 From GATT to WTO Bretton Woods institutions intended to be complemented by International Trade Organisation – stillborn in 1946 GATT came into being as an interim arrangement 1947 Successive rounds of GATT negotiations to reduce tariffs… … culminating in the Uruguay Round which established the World Trade Organisation 1994

5 GATT principles non-discrimination - countries cannot apply different trade barriers to different countries. Expressed in the principle of most favoured nation (MFN) treatment - the most favourable market access offered to any one country must be offered to all others (an important exception is free trade areas and customs unions) (Article I). national treatment - an imported product, once it has entered the country of import, should be treated as a national product (Article III) protection by tariffs - protection is not outlawed but should be provided solely by means of tariffs tariff reduction - over time attempts should be made to reduce tariffs through reciprocal concessions tariff bindings - any reductions would be bound in GATT and could only be raised against payment of compensation to affected parties, in order to promote security of trade

6 Structure of the WTO Agreements
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994) Multilateral Trade Agreements, including Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement on Agriculture Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards Agreement on Textiles and Clothing Agreements on Subsidies and Anti-Dumping (measures against unfair trade) Plurilateral Trade Agreements General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

7 Exclusion of agriculture from the GATT
Few agricultural tariffs bound, and agriculture remained outside the tariff-cutting GATT negotiations Quantitative import restrictions, banned for all other commodities, could be used for agricultural commodities, provided that domestic production of the commodity was subject to certain restrictions (Article XI on import quotas) 1955 US waiver Use of agricultural export subsidies was explicitly permitted, conditional on observance of ‘equitable market shares’, but impossible to define (Article XVI on export subsidies) Grey area measures proliferated, i.e. mechanisms such as variable import quotas, voluntary export restraints and domestic subsidies not explicitly covered by GATT No disciplines on non-tariff barriers such as import controls for food safety and animal and plant health reasons

8 Background to the Uruguay Round
World agriculture in disarray - growing US-EU tension on farm subsidies The growing costs of agricultural protectionism Launch of Uruguay Round 1986 "to achieve greater liberalisation of trade in agriculture and bring all measures affecting import access and export competition under strengthened and more operationally effective GATT rules and disciplines" Significance of the Uruguay Round the most comprehensive coverage of all negotiating rounds to date included the participation of more than 100 countries

9 Players in the Uruguay Round
The US : moving away from dependent agriculture paradigm to a competitive agriculture paradigm, and see access to export markets as the underpinning for this The EU: anxious to avoid escalating budget cost of farm support and wanting a deal as compatible with the CAP as possible Cairns Group: consisting of 14 agricultural exporters from both the developed and developing world keen on liberalisation Other developing countries – concerned about the cost of food imports Other high-income countries – anxious to avoid liberalisation





14 Tariff rate quotas Countries are required to maintain current levels of access, for each individual product, where the current level is based upon the volume of imports during the base period ( ). For commodities subject to tariffication, a minimum access should be established at not less than 3 percent of domestic consumption during the base period. This minimum level is to rise to 5 percent by the year in the case of developed countries, and by 2004 in the case of developing countries.






20 Other aspects of the URAA
sanitary and phytosanitary provisions addressed in the SPS Agreement peace clause special and differential treatment for developing countries among developing countries, concerns that net food- importing countries would lose out because of terms of trade effects. Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least Developed and Net Food Importing Developing Countries included to meet their concerns. agreement to reopen negotiations in 2000

21 Achievements of the URAA
Effectiveness of the agriculture agreement in cutting protection was less impressive than the nominal cuts suggest, because : tariff cuts took place from base levels that were frequently inflated through the choice of base year, through the methods used to measure protection existing prior to the round (‘dirty tariffication’), Through use of unweighted average of 36% through the use of ‘ceiling’ bindings in developing countries Uneven tariff reduction – many sensitive products still protected by high tariffs Minimum access commitments counted imports under existing special arrangements, despite MFN requirement

22 Achievements of the URAA
Export subsidy commitments binding despite complaints of ‘front-loading’ Domestic support disciplines limited because of agreement on Blue Box AMS discipline was established at an aggregate level, not on a commodity by commodity basis But despite the criticisms, the URAA established a framework for further disciplines The dispute settlement mechanism has been surprisingly effective in allowing countries to challenge policies of other countries

23 Adjusting CAP to the URAA
What changes were necessary to the CAP mechanisms? the implementation of tariffication other market access provisions no real effect of AMS provision more active management of export refund system to stay within subsidised export targets WTO disciplines were consistent with the MacSharry 1992 reforms


25 Some specifics of CAP adaptation to WTO disciplines
Examples of how tariff for wheat was set Variable levy system retained for cereals and fruits and vegetables (Ab)use of special safeguard provision Removal of domestic support to Blue Box But export subsidy restrictions have had some effect

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