Agriculture in the Doha Round

image of Agriculture in the Doha Round

In 2003, the WTO Ministerial Meeting at Cancun failed to achieve any significant progress on the liberalisation of agricultural markets in developed or developing countries. If the present round of negotiations is to be successful, it must continue the momentum for reform achieved through the Uruguay Round. Agricultural liberalisation has the potential to deliver significantly improved welfare in both developed and developing countries. This report prepared for the Commonwealth Secretariat by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, looks at the benefits of liberalisation and examines the closely interrelated use of the three pillars of domestic support, export subsidies and restrictions on market access in distorting world agricultural trade. It outlines the negotiating positions of the key players, and suggests possible areas for compromise and concessions in an attempt to drive forward reform crucial to a successful outcome.



Three Pillars of Agricultural Support

In the present WTO Agreement on Agriculture, concluded in 1994 under the Uruguay Round, separate provisions were agreed for three categories of support – market access, domestic support and export subsidies. For convenience these categories are termed the three ‘pillars' of support. The idea was that all measures that reduce economic benefits through restricting and distorting markets would be subject to agreed reductions and limitations, as all measures would fall within one of these categories.


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