WTO members have taken steps to reform the agriculture sector and to address the subsidies and high trade barriers that distort agricultural trade. The overall aim is to establish a fairer trading system that will increase market access and improve the livelihoods of farmers around the world. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995, represents a significant step towards reforming agricultural trade and making it fairer and more competitive. The Agriculture Committee oversees implementation of the Agreement.
Members continue to conduct negotiations for further reform. In 2015, they adopted a historic decision to abolish agricultural export subsidies and to set rules for other forms of farm export support.
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
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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The WTO Agriculture Agreement provides a framework for the long-term reform of agricultural trade and domestic policies, with the aim of leading to fairer competition and a less distorted sector.
The Agreement covers:
- Market access — the use of trade restrictions, such as tariffs on imports
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- Domestic support — the use of subsidies and other support programmes that directly stimulate production and distort trade
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- Export competition — the use of export subsidies and other government support programmes that subsidize exports.
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Under the Agreement, WTO members agree to “schedules” or lists of commitments that set limits on the tariffs they can apply to individual products and on levels of domestic support and export subsidies.back to top
The Agriculture Committee
The Committee on Agriculture oversees implementation of the Agriculture Agreement and monitors how WTO members are complying with their commitments. Members are required to share information and may ask each other questions or raise concerns about each other's agricultural policies.
- More on the Agriculture Committee
- WTO notifications and other official documents
- Members' transparency toolkit
Agricultural trade reform did not end with the birth of the Agriculture Agreement. WTO members are continuing to negotiate agricultural trade reform.
WTO members adopted important decisions on agriculture at the 2015 WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. These include a commitment to abolish subsidies for farm exports as well as decisions on public stockholding for food security purposes, on a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries, and on trade rules for cotton.
At the 2013 WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, ministers also agreed on a package of issues in agriculture.
Trade Dialogues on Food
As part of its Trade Dialogues initiative, the WTO is launching Trade Dialogues on Food, with the aim of encouraging a debate on the role of international trade in food security. Experts from governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, academia, think tanks and foundations will be invited to discuss the most topical issues in food trade. Each discussion can be watched live.
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Find out more
Introduction to agricultural trade in the WTO
Links to the agriculture section of the WTO guide “Understanding the WTO”
Summary of the Agriculture Agreement
A technical summary
Explanation of the Agriculture Agreement
A more detailed 8-part technical introduction
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Events and workshops
- Global Dialogue on Trade: Trade, an essential piece of the food systems puzzle, 6 July 2021
- CoA Information Session “How to reply to the annual Export Competition questionnaire”
Side events held in parallel to committee meetings
- Challenges and opportunities for IICA countries participating in the multilateral trade system: the case of the WTO Committee on Agriculture — IICA side event
1 December 2020
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