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June 2000: chairperson’s report to General Council

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4 July 2000

Committee on Agriculture
Special Session

Second Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture

Report by the Chairman, Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales, to the General Council

1. The Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture, which was established by the General Council to conduct the negotiations for continuing the reform process under Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture (WT/GC/M/53, paragraph 39 refers), held its second meeting on 29-30 June 2000.

2. The Committee adopted the agenda as set out in WTO/AIR/1331.

3. With respect to the requirement that progress in the negotiations be reported directly to the General Council on a regular basis, it was confirmed that, following each meeting, a short factual report would be made to the General Council on the responsibility of the Chairman. This was on the understanding that the report, once circulated, could if necessary be amended to correct any errors of a factual nature.

4. Under Item (a) of the programme for the first phase of the negotiations (paragraph 6 of G/AG/NG/1 refers), work was commenced within the framework of paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of Article 20 on the basis of statements by participants, taking into account information and data prepared by the Secretariat in documents G/AG/NG/S/1 to 13.

5. Under Item (b) of the programme for the first phase of the negotiations (paragraph 6 of G/AG/NG/1 refers), the following negotiating proposals for continuing the reform process were presented by: the Cairns Group on "Export Competition" (NG/W/11); Canada on "Market Access" (NG/W/12); Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Pakistan, Haiti, Nicaragua, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and El Salvador on "Special and Differential Treatment and a Development Box" (NG/W/13) and on "Green Box/Annex 2 Subsidies" (NG/W/14); the United States on "Comprehensive Long-Term Agricultural Trade Reform" and the related note on "Domestic Support Reform" (NG/W/15 and 16); and by the European Communities on "The Blue Box and Other Support Measures to Agriculture", on "Food Quality – Improvement of Market Access Opportunities" and on "Animal Welfare and Trade in Agriculture" (NG/W/17 to 19). The initial consideration of these proposals is to be completed at the September Special Session. It was noted that there would be opportunities to revert to these negotiating proposals and that an appropriate item for this purpose is to be included in the agendas for forthcoming Special Sessions.

6. As requested by the participants concerned, the following statements made at the meeting are being circulated: Argentina (NG/W/20), Australia (NG/W/21), Brazil (NG/W/22), Canada (NG/W/23), EC (NG/W/24), Grenada (NG/W/25), Hungary (NG/W/26), Japan (NG/W/27), Mauritius (NG/W/28), New Zealand (NG/W/29), Norway (NG/W/30), Thailand (NG/W/31), and the United States (NG/W/32). (Statements made at the first Special Session but circulated after the appearance of the Chairperson's report on that meeting are: Fiji (NG/W/8); Colombia (NG/W/9); and Canada (NG/W/10).)

7. The Secretariat was requested to prepare additional or revised background papers, or to follow-up as appropriate, on the following subjects:

a. a compilation of issues relating to non-trade concerns based on relevant AIE papers and pre-Seattle submissions;
b. an update and extension of the information contained in AIE/S7;
c. a revision of G/AG/NG/S/6 to broaden its scope;
d. tariff information on products and markets of interest to developing country Members;
e. inflation and exchange rate movements in the context of domestic support commitments;
f. changes in tariff quota administration methods and fill rates;
g. notification of information on domestic consumption of agricultural products;
h. an addendum to G/AG/NG/S/11 ("combined trade");
i. value of total agricultural production by Member; and
j. data on agricultural export credits

8. The next Special Session is to be held on 28-29 September 2000, following on from the twenty-fourth regular meeting of the Committee on Agriculture on 27 September.