In a nutshell: how to follow current issues in agriculture

Agriculture is a sector that members have agreed to reform: it is distorted by subsidies and high trade barriers, affecting access to food, fibres for clothing and other materials, and the livelihoods of farmers around the world.

In the WTO it excludes forestry and fisheries products, but includes a number of processed foods and drinks.

Updated: 2 December 2011


THIS EXPLANATION is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

The first major reform was the result of the 1986–94 Uruguay Round negotiations, which produced the present Agriculture Agreement. In it, governments started to close agricultural loopholes in WTO agreements by binding and cutting tariffs, removing import bans or restrictions, and cutting subsidies that distort trade, both in domestic markets and on exports. Poorer countries are allowed more lenient terms, and least developed countries have not made any reduction commitments.

An important area of work in the WTO is monitoring how governments are implementing their obligations under the agreement and discussing issues that arise, in the regular Agriculture Committee.

Negotiations since 2000 — brought into the Doha Development Agenda in 2001 — aim to continue the reform.


Follow agriculture


Regular work: monitoring and implementation of the Agriculture Agreement


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Explanations and full coverage of the proposal to reduce cotton subsidies, open markets and provide development assistance

Jargon buster 

Place the cursor over a term to see its definition:

• Amber box

• Blue box

• de minimis

• Green box

• notification

• overall trade-distorting domestic support (OTDS)

• tariff quota

> More jargon: glossary