WTO members will submit proposals setting out negotiating objectives by the end of this
year with some flexibility allowing new or more detailed proposals early in 2001
to enable all governments enough time to examine them and take stock at a meeting
in March 2001.
Delegates also agreed to
conduct technical work on agricultural subsidies and protection within the framework of
Article 20 of the Agriculture Agreement (see below), and to hold negotiating sessions
in June, September, November 2000 and possibly January 2001.
meeting was constructive and businesslike," said WTO Director-General Mike Moore.
"Delegates had clearly done their homework. Theyd found out from each other
exactly what could be achieved and spoke almost as one voice. Several said they would have
preferred the talks to go faster or to give them more time, or for the talks to be
organized differently, but they didnt dwell on this and so they reached consensus
is the WTO working at its best. The hard bargaining still lies ahead, and Im sure
that will be much more difficult. But the goodwill shown at this meeting is a good omen
for the future," he said.
also clear that delegations have not allowed their differences over picking a chairperson
to obstruct the negotiations," Mr Moore added.
new negotiations on agriculture have to start this year under the deal struck at the end
of the 198694 Uruguay Round of multilateral trade talks. It is written into
Article 20 of the WTO Agriculture Agreement, part of the Uruguay Round package.
members have not yet agreed on a chairperson for the negotiations, and under an interim
solution agreed by the WTO General Council, Ambassador Roger Farrell of New Zealand, the
chairperson of the Goods Council, presided over the 2324 March meeting.
Council chairperson Kňre Bryn and his Goods Council counterpart, Ambassador Farrell, are
continuing consultations with member governments on a chairperson for agriculture.
Ambassador Bryn has said he hopes to have agreement on this by the next meeting.
decision reached on 24 March deals with the "first phase" of the
negotiations and contains three parts (see text below):
work: countries need information on whats been happening in agriculture and the
effects of the current round of reductions in subsidies and protection, in order to
negotiate the next stage. This is also required under Article 20 of the Agriculture
Agreement. The secretariat will compile the factual information and has been assigned a
set of tasks for the next meeting at the end of June 2000.
receiving proposals: countries can submit proposals from now until the end of December,
with a little flexibility for those who cannot meet that date or want to make additions.
In March 2001, the committee will take stock of the proposals, so they must have arrived
in time for all members to examine all the proposals by that meeting.
meetings: in the first phase these will take place in June, September and November 2000,
and March 2001 all as "special sessions" of the Agriculture Committee,
taking place immediately before or after regular committee meetings with the
possibility of an extra January 2001 meeting.
date has been set yet for concluding the talks.
also made general statements about their positions on agriculture, largely echoing what
they had said before Seattle (see also a background document prepared for
the Ministerial Conference.
Cairns Group members (Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Philippines,
South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay) also stressed that they consider the agriculture
negotiations to be "stand-alone" because they obtained the commitment to resume
negotiations in return for the moderate reforms agreed in the Uruguay Round. European
countries, Japan, Rep of Korea, and some others said they believe agreement in the
agriculture talks will need a comprehensive round that covers a wide range of topics. East
and Central European countries said the talks should also look at the special problems of
countries in transition, and how to deal with domestic subsidy commitments (which are made
in current prices) when countries experience high rates of inflation. Many developing
countries (including some Cairns Group members) said their priority is dealing with the
special problems of developing countries and net food importers.
next meeting will be on June 29 and 30.
more information, see the WTO website www.wto.org
and in particular background briefing notes for the 1999 Seattle Ministerial
The following programme and arrangements for the first phase of the negotiations under
Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture was agreed:
that work within the framework of paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Article 20 would be
based on technical papers and submissions to be contributed by interested participants, as
well as on the basis of information and data to be prepared by the Secretariat at the
request of the Committee;
that negotiating proposals would be submitted by participants by the end of December 2000,
on the understanding that there would be flexibility for the submission of further or more
detailed proposals thereafter, provided that such submissions are tabled sufficiently in
advance of a stock-taking exercise, covering all proposals submitted, to be undertaken at
a March 2001 meeting of the Special Session;
that appropriate provision would be made in the agendas of each of the Special Session
meetings for the discussion of technical papers submitted and proposals made;
that the Special Session meetings would be held back-to-back with the regular meetings of
the Committee on Agriculture in June, September and November 2000, with the possibility of
an additional Special Session meeting being held in the interval prior to the March 2001
stock-taking meeting on the first phase of the negotiations. The timing of such a meeting,
provisionally in the last week of January 2001, would be decided by the Chairperson in the
light of consultations as appropriate.
Various suggestions were made by participants for background technical papers by the
Secretariat. Taking account of these suggestions as appropriate, including experience to
date in implementing commitments, the following background papers would be made available
in advance of the next meeting of the Special Session in June:
revised and updated background papers based on notifications on tariff quotas, domestic
support, and export subsidies, as well as a table showing Members usage of domestic
support categories, export subsidies and export credits in a common currency;
an updated background paper on the agricultural trade performance of developing countries;
a background paper in the context of Article 20(b);
a background paper on implementation of the least developed and net food-importing
developing countries Decision.
Article 20 of the Agriculture
Continuation of the Reform Process
that the long-term objective of substantial progressive reductions in support and
protection resulting in fundamental reform is an ongoing process, Members agree that
negotiations for continuing the process will be initiated one year before the end of the
implementation period, taking into account:
experience to that date from implementing the reduction commitments; the effects of the
reduction commitments on world trade in agriculture;non-trade concerns, special and
differential treatment to developing-country Members, and the objective to establish a
fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system, and the other objectives and
concerns mentioned in the preamble to this Agreement; and what further commitments are
necessary to achieve the above mentioned long-term objectives.