With 153 members and thousands of products,
the simplest way to do this is to agree on formulas for making the
cuts. These formulas are at the heart of the "modalities". Once they
have been agreed, governments can apply the formulas to their tariffs
and subsidies to set new ceiling commitments.
However in order to agree to the formulas,
members want a number of other concerns to be part of the deal. These
include flexibility to allow some deviation from the formulas, tighter
disciplines to ensure loopholes are plugged and trade-distorting
subsidies are not camouflaged in permitted policies, and different
treatment for developing countries and some other groups of members.
The result is a document that is
considerably more complicated than formulas alone. But the aim is
still to strike a deal that enables governments to open their markets
and reduce trade-distorting subsidies. These new commitments are to be
listed in documents called "schedules" of commitments.