Introduction to agricultural trade within the WTO Links to the agricultural department of the WTO`s “Understanding the WTO” guide, WTO members adopted important decisions on agriculture at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015. These include the obligation to remove agricultural export subsidies, decisions on public storage for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries and trade rules for cotton. At the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013, ministers also agreed on a range of agriculture-related issues. See Agricultural Negotiations News See cotton news Before the 1986 GATT Ministerial Conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay, agricultural lobbies in industrialized countries vehemently opposed agricultural trade-offs. In this context, the idea of excluding “trade-neutral” production and subsidies from WTO commitments was first proposed in 1987 by the United States and soon replicated by the EU.  By guaranteeing continued support to farmers, it has also neutralized the opposition. In exchange for the integration of agriculture into WTO disciplines and the obligation to reduce trade-distorting subsidies in the future, developed countries could maintain subsidies that result in “no more than minimal trade distortion” in order to achieve different public policy objectives.  WTO members have taken steps to reform the agricultural sector and address the high subsidies and trade barriers that distort agricultural trade. The overall goal is to establish a fairer trading system that improves market access and improves the livelihoods of farmers around the world. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995, is an important step towards reforming agricultural trade and towards fairer and more competitive development. The Committee on Agriculture is monitoring the implementation of the agreement. The member transparency toolkit contains information on notification formats and a reporting manual, as well as links to members` lists with commitments and other resources to support member transparency in the agricultural sector.
The Haberler report of 1958 stressed the importance of minimizing the impact of agricultural subsidies on competitiveness and recommended replacing price support with additional non-production-related direct payments, and expected discussions to be ongoing on green box subsidies. But it is only recently that this change has become the heart of the reform of the global agricultural system.  WTO information on agriculture, including communications from WTO members Video: How to use AGIMS The agreement has been criticized by civil society groups for reducing the protection of small farmers, an important source of income in developing countries, while allowing rich countries to continue subsidizing agriculture in their own countries. Export subsidies are the third pillar. The 1995 agricultural agreement required industrialized countries to reduce export subsidies by at least 36% (in value terms) or by 21% (by volume) over a six-year value. For developing countries, the agreement called for reductions of 24% (in value) and 14% (in volume) over ten years. In the 1980s, public payments to agricultural producers in industrialized countries generated large crop surpluses, which were unloaded by export subsidies on the world market, causing food prices to fall. Tax pressure on safeguards has increased, due to both lower import duty revenues and increased domestic spending. Meanwhile, the global economy has entered a cycle of recession and the perception that market opening could improve economic conditions has led to calls for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations.  The cycle would open up markets for high-tech services and goods and, at the end of the