The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture Lecture 19. Economics of Food Markets Alan Matthews
to understand the reasons for the disarray in agricultural trade prior to the Uruguay Round agreement
to be familiar with the alternative approaches to introducing disciplines on agricultural trade proposed by the main UR participants
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
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
WTO general norms (1)
Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment of like products
(BUT exceptions for free trade arrangements)
The products of the territory of any contracting party imported into the territory of any other contracting party shall be accorded treatment no less favourable than that accorded to like products of national origin in respect of all laws, regulations and requirements affecting their internal sale, offering for sale, purchase, transportation, distribution or use.
(BUT exceptions for government procurement, domestic subsidies)
the political economy justification for multilateral trade negotiations
WTO general norms (2)
Preference for tariffs rather than other forms of import barriers
Trade Policy Review Mechanism
Tariffs are bound in Schedules of commitments
restrictions in the case of serious balance-of-payments difficulties or to support infant industries
Article XX - general exceptions allowing trade restrictions
provisions allowing for restrictions against unfair trade
safeguard provisions against import surges
necessary to protect public morals;
necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health;
relating to the importations or exportations of gold or silver;
necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement, including those relating to customs enforcement, the enforcement of monopolies operated under paragraph 4 of Article II and Article XVII, the protection of patents, trade marks and copyrights, and the prevention of deceptive practices;
relating to the products of prison labour;
imposed for the protection of national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value;
relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources if such measures are made effective in conjunction with restrictions on domestic production or consumption;
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
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
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
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
Progress of Uruguay Round negotiations
The opening negotiating positions
US proposed the ‘zero option’ – all agricultural subsidies and quantitative restrictions be phased out over ten years
EU – wanted to negotiate on commodity by commodity basis (e.g. rebalancing)
the stalled Montreal Mid-Term Review in December 1988
Cairns Group walked away from tentative agreements in other areas because no serious engagement on agriculture
Geneva Accord – April 1989 : US dropped zero option and agreed negotiations should proceed along three pillars
Heysel meeting December 1990: breakdown because of EU unwillingness to limit export subsidies
Progress of Uruguay Round negotiations
Dunkel ‘draft Final Act’ in end-1991
Covered all aspects of the negotiations
First text with quantitative proposals in each of the three pillars
[MacSharry CAP reform May 1992]
Blair House I agreement November 1992
Lessened extent of export subsidy cuts, protected EU and US compensation payments under production limiting programmes (‘blue box’) and introduced peace clause
Blair House II agreement December 1993
Made some concessions to EU to mollify France
Geneva Agreement, December 1993
Following which verification process of country schedules
Marrakesh Final Act, April 1994
Tariffication required countries to convert their existing NTBs into tariff equivalents. These tariff equivalents are established for the base period (1986-1988) and are entered in the Country Schedules as the base rate of tariff.
Developing countries had the choice of offering tariff bindings instead of establishing tariff equivalents.
It discourages future use of NTBs, subject to certain exemptions. These exemptions are defined under the Special Treatment provision that allows countries to claim exemption from tariffication commitments for certain sensitive products.
For developed countries, an unweighted average of 36 percent, subject to a minimum reduction of 15 percent in each tariff line over a six year implementation period.
For developing countries the commitments are 24 percent and 10 percent respectively, and the implementation period extends to ten years.
For least-developed countries there were no reduction commitments.
Special Safeguards provisions, that enable a country which has used tariffication to apply additional tariffs to certain specified commodities, where import prices are particularly low, or where there is a sudden surge in imports.
Market access commitments
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 (1986-88).
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 2000 in the case of developed countries, and by 2004 in the case of developing countries.
Domestic support commitments
Divided domestic support policies into three types:
Policies deemed to have a substantial impact on the patterns and flow of trade are classified in what is called the 'amber box‘ and are subject to reduction commitments;
policies that are not deemed to have a major effect on production and trade are placed in the 'green box';
policies that fall into neither of these categories, but are, perhaps, somewhere in between, are known as 'blue box' policies.
Disciplining amber box policies
All domestic support deemed to have a distortionary effect on trade is summed and included in a measure called the Aggregate Measure of Support (AMS);
Market price support where support provided by administrative support prices e.g. intervention (but not if provided by tariff protection alone)
Calculated on the basis of world reference prices in 1986-88
Coupled direct payments
De minimis exemptions – 5% for product specific and 5% for non-product specific support
Progressive reduction in AMS levels by 20% over 6 years.
The blue box
Direct payments under production-limiting programmes are exempted from AMS reduction if:
such payments are based on fixed area and yields; or
such payments are made on 85 percent or less of the base level of production; or
livestock payments are made on a fixed number of head.
Export subsidy commitments
No new export subsidies can be introduced
Developed countries committed to reducing the volume of subsidised exports by 21 percent and the expenditure on subsidies by 36 percent, both over a six-year implementation period (1995-2000).
For export subsidies the base period is generally taken to be the period 1986-1990.
However, an exception to this was negotiated between the US and the EC, under what was called the "front loading" accord, which was part of Blair House II in December 1993, just before the conclusion of the Round.
This allowed that the starting level of export subsidy reduction commitments could be the level of subsidies prevailing in 1991-92, providing that the level of subsidies at this time exceeded those in the base period.
Other aspects of the URAA
sanitary and phytosanitary provisions addressed in the SPS Agreement
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.