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

AGRICULTURE NEGOTIATIONS: BACKGROUNDER

After the framework: technical work on domestic support

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UPDATED 1 DECEMBER 2004

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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.


Methodology for product-specific AMS (amber box) caps  back to top

The discussion covers the question of the base period for setting the caps and whether the approach should be uniform for all. Broadly, some propose basing this on actual supports. Some counter that to be consistent with other pillars, the base should be the final bound rate (the final ceiling on the aggregate measurement of support, AMS). Some advocate a harmonization method (narrowing the gaps by bigger cuts on higher supports).

  

Base period for domestic support commitments  back to top

Initial discussion on this subject is tentative, with some members saying they are still considering the issue.

  

Green box  back to top

Green Box topics include: review and clarification of criteria, special treatment for developing countries, and monitoring and surveillance. The initial discussions are more political than in other subjects. The main area of agreement is that the Green Box is defined as supports that do not distort or distort minimally (paragraph 1 of Annex 2 of the Agriculture Agreement), and that the objective of the “review and clarification” is to maintain this.

But broadly, opinions diverge on whether this implies simply a “health checkup” or reforming the Green Box. Some members want to see new disciplines on a number of programmes currently in the box — particularly income supports and similar programmes, if these encourage farmers to produce more because the supports are large enough to cover various costs and risks, or if they are designed in a way that encourages farmers to expect more subsidies in the future, for example because base periods are adjusted. Those on the “health checkup” side stressed the need to preserve the Green Box as a tool for moving away from other more distorting subsidies (Amber and Blue Box supports).

 

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