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WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture Issues and Concerns for India

WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture Issues and Concerns for India

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Published by Yogesh Bandhu
The Agreement on Agriculture, entered into by WTO Member Countries in 1995, would be coming up for review at the end of this year. The full text of the Agreement is available on website address www.wto.org/ wto/legal/finalact.htm. Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) points the way to further negotiations on agriculture. As a run up to the same, the WTO Committee on Agriculture has instituted a process of analysis and information exchange wherein informal papers are presented by various member countries highlighting implementation problems as well as areas of the agreement which need amendment, modification and further clarity.

While Article 20 mandates further negotiations, there is neither a fixed agenda nor a timetable for the same, which could probably mean that this process would simply be the beginning which could last for some years. These negotiations may cover several issues depending upon the position of different groups of countries.

The Agreement on Agriculture contains provisions in following three broad areas of agriculture and trade policy:

a) Market access envisages tariffication of all non-tariff barriers (that is removal of quantitative restrictions and export and import licensing).

b) Domestic support measures or subsidies are disciplined through reduction in the total Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) and area of export subsidies is also a trade concern for India as these measures affect the export of developing countries, rendering them uncompetitive when compared to subsidised exports of the developed countries. Further, they also result in distorting the world prices of agricultural commodities and thereby adversely affecting those developing countries which are net importers of foodgrains.

The Uruguay Round and the subsequent negotiations in services had not yielded significant returns to the developing countries, particularly in regard to market access in terms of movement of natural persons and hence, there was need to remove the existing imbalances in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) taking into account the interests of developing countries.

The Agreement on Agriculture, entered into by WTO Member Countries in 1995, would be coming up for review at the end of this year. The full text of the Agreement is available on website address www.wto.org/ wto/legal/finalact.htm. Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) points the way to further negotiations on agriculture. As a run up to the same, the WTO Committee on Agriculture has instituted a process of analysis and information exchange wherein informal papers are presented by various member countries highlighting implementation problems as well as areas of the agreement which need amendment, modification and further clarity.

While Article 20 mandates further negotiations, there is neither a fixed agenda nor a timetable for the same, which could probably mean that this process would simply be the beginning which could last for some years. These negotiations may cover several issues depending upon the position of different groups of countries.

The Agreement on Agriculture contains provisions in following three broad areas of agriculture and trade policy:

a) Market access envisages tariffication of all non-tariff barriers (that is removal of quantitative restrictions and export and import licensing).

b) Domestic support measures or subsidies are disciplined through reduction in the total Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) and area of export subsidies is also a trade concern for India as these measures affect the export of developing countries, rendering them uncompetitive when compared to subsidised exports of the developed countries. Further, they also result in distorting the world prices of agricultural commodities and thereby adversely affecting those developing countries which are net importers of foodgrains.

The Uruguay Round and the subsequent negotiations in services had not yielded significant returns to the developing countries, particularly in regard to market access in terms of movement of natural persons and hence, there was need to remove the existing imbalances in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) taking into account the interests of developing countries.

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Published by: Yogesh Bandhu on Sep 29, 2013
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05/15/2014

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WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture
Issues and Concerns for India
Yogesh Bandhu
Workshop on WTO
U.P. Academy of Administration & Management, Lucknow
August 28
th
, 2012
 
 
AoA : From GATT to WTO
 
The original 23 GATT countries were among over 50
which agreed a draft Charter for an International TradeOrganization (ITO). The Charter was intended to provideworld trade disciplines and also contained rules relatingto employment, commodity agreements, restrictive
business practices, international investment and
services.Although, in its 47 years, the basic legal text of theGATT remained much as it was in 1948, there were
additions in the form of "plurilateral" - voluntary
membership - agreements and continual efforts toreduce tariffs.The GATT was established on a provisional basis in thewake of other new multilateral institutions dedicated tointernational economic cooperation - notably the "Bretton
Woods" institutions now known as the World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund.
 
The Tokyo Round
 –
 
A First Try at Reforming the Trading System
 
Subsidies and countervailing measures
Technical barriers to trade
Import licensing procedures
Customs valuation
Government procurement
Anti-dumping
Bovine Meat Arrangement
International Dairy Arrangement
Trade in Civil AircraftConducted between 1973 and 1979 with102 participating countries

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