AGRICULTURE: WORK IN THE WTO
The Agriculture Committee
The Committee on Agriculture oversees the implementation of the Agriculture Agreement and provides a forum for members to raise and address related questions and concerns. Its key responsibility is to monitor how WTO members are complying with their commitments. The committee, made up of all WTO members, usually meets three or four times a year.
The current chair is .
Sanitary and phytosanitary measures
i.e. food safety and animal-plant health
Standards and Trade Development Facility
Helping developing countries meet food and health standards
The review process
The Agriculture Committee oversees the implementation of the Agriculture Agreement, providing members with the opportunity to share information on the implementation of their commitments.
Members can ask each other questions about the “notifications” shared by other members and may raise concerns about each other's agricultural policies.
The questions and answers are available in the Agriculture Information Management System database.
Monitoring of ministerial decisionsIn addition to its original mandate, the Committee on Agriculture has been tasked with monitoring the implementation of a number of decisions agreed by Ministers at WTO's Ministerial Conferences. Details on the work of the Committee on Agriculture regarding these decisions can be found below.
Export subsidies and agricultural trade
The committee reviews annually the growth of world agricultural trade to see if export subsidies may be a cause of trade growth. The WTO Secretariat prepares background notes on WTO members' share in annual world trade growth.
Since December 2013, the committee has undertaken annual reviews of members' agriculture export subsidies and other export measures. To aid the review, the WTO Secretariat compiles background information on members' export subsidies, export finance support, agriculture state trading enterprises and international food aid.
Following the adoption at the Nairobi Ministerial of the Decision on Export Competition, the committee monitors the elimination of agricultural export subsidies, new rules for export credits, and decisions on international food aid and exporting state trading enterprises agreed therein. . The committee also reviews every three years the disciplines contained in this Decision.
Net-food importing developing countries
In line with an earlier Ministerial Decision, the Agriculture Committee monitors the possible negative effects of agricultural reform on poorer countries and on net food-importing developing countries. The WTO updates regularly a list of net-food-importing developing countries and the WTO Secretariat prepares background notes on implementation of the ministerial decision.
There are a number of provisions contained in the Nairobi Decision on Export Competition in relation to international food aid that are to be reviewed within the monitoring of the implementation of the Marrakesh NFIDC Decision.
Market access in agricultural trade
The committee is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Bali Decision on tariff quota administration which establishes a mechanism to monitor TRQs with low fill-rates. A review of the operation of the Bali decision, required to commence four years after its adoption, taking into account experience gained up to that time, was undertaken by the committee during 2017-19 and the recommendations of the review contained in annex 2 to G/AG/29 were approved by the General Council in December 2019.
On 31 March 2022, the General Council adopted the decision on the future operation of paragraph 4 of the Bali TRQ Decision underfill mechanism based on the recommendations approved by the Committee on Agriculture. A WTO Secretariat background note includes detailed information on the implementation of the Bali Decision on TRQ administration. An informal summary note by the Secretariat provides a round-up of the Bali TRQ Decision and its implications for world trade.
Public stockholding for food security purposes
The committee is also responsible for monitoring information submitted by members on public stockholding for food security purposes.
COVID-19 and agriculture
In response to requests from members, the Committee on Agriculture held a special meeting on 18 June 2020 to review the situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international agriculture and food trade within the framework of the Agreement on Agriculture. At that meeting, members reviewed each other's agricultural measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the importance of transparency regarding COVID‑19-related measures. Members also agreed to include “COVID-19 and agriculture” as a standing item on the agenda of future Committee meetings, and to invite observer international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) to contribute to discussions under this agenda item. The record of the meeting is accessible in G/AG/R/94.
Based on the suggestion by the Chair, several members have submitted ad hoc reports on measures taken in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, specific notifications on COVID-19 agricultural measures have been submitted. These documents are accessible on the WTO COVID‑19 webpage.
Several observer IGOs have also submitted written contributions under the agenda item on “COVID-19 and agriculture”.
At the request of members, the WTO Secretariat launched in June 2021 a separate webpage containing the list of COVID-19 agricultural measures. The list has been extracted from the consolidated list of COVID-19 goods measures, which is compiled and regularly updated by the WTO Secretariat as part of the WTO's trade monitoring exercise.
Find out more
The organization of work in the Agriculture Committee and working procedures are set out in document G/AG/1.
Agriculture Committee proceedings
Search Documents Online
These links open a new window: allow a moment for the results to appear.
- Annual reports of the committee to the Goods Council (for the General Council’s overview of WTO activities) (Document code varies) > search > help
- Summary reports (minutes) of regular meetings of the Agriculture Committee (Document code G/AG/R/*) > search > help
- Questions and answers from members in Agriculture Committee meetings, released publicly since the March 2010 meeting (Document code G/AG/W/* and “points raised by members under the review process”) > search > help
> Notified information and questions and answers in the committee: Agriculture Information Management System
Other data and official documents on agriculture
Observer organizations in the Agriculture Committee
- International Grains Council (IGC)
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
- United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
- World Bank
Agriculture Information Management System, including notifications by WTO members
Members’ transparency toolkit
The members' transparency toolkit provides information on notification formats and a handbook on notification requirements as well as links to members’ lists of commitments and other resources to assist members’ transparency in agriculture.
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