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Draft Paper – Not to be cited without author’s permission

Appendix 1. The Organization of the WTO Negotiations on Agriculture

The Three Pillars of the AoA

The first version of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of the Uruguay Round of the

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

WTO

on

January

1,

1995.

Under

this

(GATT) took effect with the creation agreement, countries were to reduce

of the export

subsidies and domestic supports, while lowering access). In the World Trade Organization (WTO), are said to rest on these three ‘pillars:’

import barriers the negotiations

(increasing market on agricultural trade

Market Access

Under the initial AoA, all member countries were required to

eliminate quantitative restrictions (import quotas) and non-tariff barriers, replace these with tariffs. Members also had to reduce their tariff levels: by

and 36%

over

six

years

(1995-2000)

for

developed

countries,

and

by

24%

over

ten

years

(1995-2004) for developing countries. Developed Countries, or LDCs) did

The poorest countries (called Least not have to reduce their tariffs, but

nevertheless committed to not raise them either. Under a agreed to in 2004, a commitment was made to cut higher

more recent tariffs more

framework than lower

tariffs.

While this seems reasonable at face value, it actually discriminates

heavily against poorer countries. While wealthier countries can support farmers in numerous ways that require significant levels of spending, poorer countries cannot afford the outlays. Virtually the only way they can support their farmers is through tariffs or other restrictions on imports that limit dumping in their home

markets and help keep domestic crop prices up. An August 1,

New York

Times

negotiators

agreed

makes that the

this clear:

“The United States

highest

tariffs

should

be

cut

the

2004, was most,

article in the pleased that a move that

would mean a greater opening for American developing world. ‘We feel this is a win-win for

agricultural

products

in the

the United

States, the

WTO,

exporters, consumers, developed and developing trade official who asked for anonymity.’”

countries

alike,’

said

a

American

Market access is at once the ‘Holy Grail,’ or bait held out to Southern countries— that is, access to US and EU markets—and the real goal of the trade super-powers in on-going negotiations, which is access to poor country markets for US and EU exports. The former is typically held closely as a bargaining chip by the US and EU, to be doled out in small portions in each round of negotiations in exchange for larger opening of Southern markets. When one considers that agricultural exports are typically equivalent to less than 10 per cent of agricultural value- added in LDCs, the bargain with the devil that is on offer becomes clear. ‘Give us more market access for dumping into your 90% (the domestic food market and for which the vast majority of small farmers produce), and we’ll give you more of a chance for your 10% in our markets (the tiny elite of large agroexporters).’ Unfortunately for family and peasant farmers the world over (responsible for producing the 90%), agroexport industries exert great force on official

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