Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

AGRICULTURE NEGOTIATIONS: BACKGROUNDER
Update Phase 2: geographical indications

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UPDATED 10 OCTOBER 2002

Contents
> In a nutshell
Proposals received in Phase 1
Proposals received in Phase 2
Alliances table
INTRODUCTION
Phase 1
Export subsidies, competition and restrictions
Market access
Domestic support: amber, blue and green boxes
Developing countries
Transition economies
Non-trade concerns
Animal welfare and food quality
The peace clause

Phase 2
Tariffs and quotas
Domestic support: amber, blue and green boxes
Export subsidies and restrictions
State trading
Food security
Food safety
Rural development
> Geographical indications
Safeguards
Environment
Trade preferences
Food aid
Consumer information and labelling
Sectoral initiatives
Development box, single commodity producers, small island developing states, special and differential treatment
Additional issues (food aid, the Green Box, tariff quota expansion)

Modalities 2002–2003
Exports
Market access
Domestic support


Data
Statistics

This briefing document explains current agricultural issues raised before and in the current negotiations. It has been prepared by the Information and Media Relations Division of the WTO Secretariat to help public understanding about the agriculture negotiations. It is not an official record of the negotiations.


Geographical indications (see also TRIPS material)

See also Phase 1 (food quality). This deals with extending the level of protection currently given to wines and spirits to other products.

One view is that this is a question of market access for agricultural products, which justifies its inclusion in the negotiations. This is because product differentiation is an important feature of competition. It benefits consumers because they are offered more choice with more information about product quality. It also benefits producers, who are able to develop quality products and are free from unfair or misleading competition in markets that import their products, according to this argument.

An alternative view shares the argument, but says this should be negotiated in the WTO’s intellectual property (TRIPS) council. The point is raised in the agriculture negotiations to stress the link: progress in the agriculture negotiations requires progress on this subject in the TRIPS Council, a number of countries say. Some point out that the agriculture negotiations focus on food products, whereas proposed negotiations under TRIPS would cover all products including handicrafts, etc.

Another group of countries opposes discussing the issue in the Agriculture Committee outright. They say it should only be handled in the TRIPS Council.

Papers or “non-papers” from: The EU, and Switzerland.

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The second phase consists of detailed discussions on the many issues raised in the first phase, organized topic by topic. The meetings are largely “informal”, meaning that there is no official record except for chairperson’s summaries presented at the formal meetings. Papers presented so far have not been official WTO documents. Despite the increased complexity, developing countries continue to participate actively.