Contact for this paper: Stefan Tangermann, Institute of Agricultural Economics, University of Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany. Among the many new achievements made in the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations, the ambitious and wide-ranging Agreement on Agriculture (The Agreement) was a significant departure from the way agriculture had traditionally been treated in the international trading order. Completely new rules and commitments were established in the areas of market access, export competition and domestic support. While it was generally agreed that the nature of these new WTO provisions for agriculture pointed in an appropriate direction and held promise for the longer run process of reforming the multilateral trading regime for agriculture, it was also clear that the quantitative parameters agreed for the current implementation period of the Agreement were not yet very demanding in most cases. Moreover, right from the start observers and analysts agreed that the actual impact of the new disciplines for agricultural policies and trade agreed at Marrakesh in 1994 would very much depend on the way in which they were going to be implemented in practice. Would the new commitments countries had accepted require or induce changes in their policies? Was access to markets really going to be improved? Were the new elements of managed trade, resulting from the host of new tariff rate quotas, going to have negative impacts on trading relations? Would the new constraints on export subsidization turn out to be binding? Could the new provisions on domestic support, and in particular existence of the "green box" be expected to influence national decision making on the instrumentation of agricultural policies? Would countries try to find loopholes in the Agreement which might allow them to escape the constraining effects of some of the new disciplines? Did one have to expect that the frequency of trade disputes in agriculture might further increase? And would the new WTO rules for dispute settlement be able to deal with such trade frictions more successfully? Was the newly established WTO Committee on Agriculture going to be a useful forum for settling any disagreements at an early stage, and for making sure that the reform process in agriculture was kept on track? The current six-year implementation period under the Agreement (lasting until the year 2000, with four more years for developing countries to implement their reduction commitments) is now approaching its mid-term. It is still too early for a final assessment of how effective the Agreement has been. However, interesting and important insights can already been gained from the way governments have so far implemented the new rules and commitments. An assessment of the experience made in the first half of the implementation period should be useful for the remainder of the implementation process. Moreover, the time is ripe for a stock-taking as governments begin to prepare for the next round of agricultural negotiations, on the "continuation of the reform process", scheduled under the Agreement to be initiated in 1999. Such a mid-term assessment of how the Agreement is being implemented, and of the resulting issues for the next round of negotiations, is exactly what the present paper tries to achieve. The main part of the paper consists of chapters 2 to 9, looking into the way the Agreement is being implemented by major countries and country groups (USA, European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Korea, South Asia, Latin America). Chapter 10 provides a brief overview of that country experience and reviews developments in Geneva, in the Committee on Agriculture and in the settlement of agricultural disputes. On the basis of all that analysis, chapter 11 then discusses issues for the next round of agricultural negotiations. Chapter 12, finally, draws conclusions regarding the future of agricultural trade liberalization.


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