AGRICULTURE

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The aim of the 2013 Bali Decision was to improve how the quota system is used for agricultural products. It clarified the procedure for administering TRQs, which allow import quantities inside a quota to be charged lower duty rates than those outside. The TRQ mechanism was originally agreed in the 1986-94 Uruguay Round negotiations as a means of allowing exporters some access to other countries’ markets when the normal (out-of-quota) tariffs on imports are high.

Starting in October 2017, the review involved more than two years of intense discussion among members, resulting in agreement on a number of measures and processes towards enhancing transparency and improving TRQ notification practices.

WTO members also agreed on the recommendation to conduct a triennial review of the operation of the Bali TRQ Decision. On the future operation of paragraph 4 (Annex A) of the TRQ Decision, regarding underfill, members could not agree on definitive recommendations. Instead, they agreed to extend the deadline for a decision on Paragraph 4 by two years. TRQ underfill is when parts or all of the quotas are not used. Paragraph 4 specifies certain actions to be taken by WTO members to address underfill.

The report and recommendations (G/AG/29) will be considered by the General Council at its December 2019 meeting.  

The Committee also examined agricultural policies of a number of members in the areas of market access, domestic support and export competition as well as broader policies relevant to the implementation of the Agreement on Agriculture. New Zealand and Canada expressed their readiness to withdraw their reservations on the 2017 proposal of the European Union on its consolidated schedule of commitments for the EU-28.

In addition, WTO members held their annual discussion on the growth of world trade in agricultural products, as mandated under Article 18.5 of the Agreement on Agriculture, and their annual monitoring of the follow-up to the Marrakesh Ministerial Decision regarding net food-importing developing countries, which sets out objectives on the provision of food aid.

The Secretariat launched the online agriculture notification system (agims.wto.org) for use by members. The database, which already provides access to discussions in the Agriculture Committee, will now also allow WTO members to make online submissions of notifications regarding implementation of the Agriculture Agreement.

Ms Christiane Daleiden Distefano of Luxembourg presided over the two-day meeting. The next meeting of the Committee on Agriculture is scheduled for 24-25 March 2020.

Updated agriculture glossary

For all agriculture terminologies used at the WTO, please see our new dedicated page.

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