Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements


In a nutshell

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This briefing document explains current agricultural issues raised before and in the current negotiations. It has been prepared by the Information and Media Relations Division of the WTO Secretariat to help public understanding about the agriculture negotiations. It is not an official record of the negotiations.

Phase 1 (23-24 March 2000 to 26-27 March 2001) back to top

  • 7 meetings
  • 45 proposals
  • 4 documents described as notes, submissions, technical submissions, discussion papers
  • proposals from 121 countries (counting the EU as 16, i.e. the 15 countries plus the EU as a group) or 85% of the WTO’s membership; or, including technical submissions, from 126 countries, 89% of the WTO’s membership



Discussion papers /submissions

(or covering several topics)

US, EU, Japan, Switzerland, Mauritius, small island developing states, Rep of Korea, Mali, Norway, India, Poland, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Congo (Dem Rep), Kenya, Senegal, Mexico, Jordan, African Group, Namibia, Burkina Faso


Export competition

Cairns Group, EU


  • Export restrictions, taxes
  • Cairns Group


  • Export credits
  • MERCOSUR, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India and Malaysia


Domestic support

Cairns Group, US, Canada


  • Blue box
  • EU


  • Green box
  • Developing countries group (2)


  • Transition issues
  • Transition economies


Market access

Canada, Cairns Group, developing countries group (3), transition group, Caricom


  • Food quality
  • EU


  • Tariff-rate quotas
  • US


  • … and S&D for small developing countries
  • Swaziland


Non-trade concerns


38 countries, Argentina

  • Animal welfare
  • EU


Development, S&D

Developing countries group (1), ASEAN





  • State trading enterprises


“Developing countries group” = sponsored some or all of
(1) G/AG/NG/W/13 (S&D and development box),
(2) G/AG/NG/W/14 (Green Box),
(3) G/AG/NG/W/37 + Corr.1 (market access)

(See “alliances” for details of groupings)


Phase 2 (26-27 March 2001 to 4-7 February 2002) back to top

Launched at the 26-27 March 2001 stock-taking meeting.

Phase 2 meetings

  • 21-23 May 2001 informal meeting (tariff quota administration, tariffs, Amber Box)
  • 23-25 July 2001 informal meeting (export subsidies, export credits, state trading enterprises, export taxes and restrictions, food security, food safety)
  • 24-26 September 2001 informal meeting (rural development, geographical indications, Green Box, Blue Box, agricultural safeguards); 28 September formal meeting
  • 3-4 December 2001 informal meeting (environment, trade preferences, food aid, consumer information and labelling, sectoral initiatives); 7 December formal meeting
  • 4-6 February 2002 informal meeting: the development box, single commodity producers, special and differential treatment, small island developing countries, and “other issues”. 7 February formal meeting, to end Phase 2.


The Doha mandate (from the Doha Ministerial Conference, November 2001) back to top


  • 31 March 2003: formulas and other “modalities” for countries’ commitments
  • Fifth Ministerial Conference, Mexico, 2003: countries’ comprehensive draft commitments and stock taking
  • 1 January 2005: Deadline for concluding negotiations, part of single undertaking

Preparations for ‘modalities’ and Cancún (26 March 2002 to September 2003) back to top

Meetings and timetable


  • June meeting: export subsidies and restrictions (“intersessional” preparatory consultations 3-4 June 2002, informal 17-19 June, formal 20 June)
  • Early September meeting: market access (“intersessional” preparatory consultations 29-30 July 2002, informal 2-3 September, formal 6 September)
  • Late September meeting: domestic support (informal 23-25 September, formal 27 September)
  • November meeting: follow-up (“intersessional” preparatory consultations 4-5 September 2002, informal 18-20 November, formal 22 November)
  • 18 December: overview paper drafted by Chairperson Harbinson, based on discussions so far.


  • January meeting: comprehensive review based on overview paper (informal/formal 22-24 January)
  • Drafting: first draft of modalities document
  • February meeting: comments on first draft (informal/formal 24-28 February)
  • Redrafting: second draft of modalities document
  • March meeting: consideration of final text (informal/formal 25-31 March)
  • 31 March: deadline
  • April-June 2003 numerous technical consultations
  • 26-27 June 2003 informal meeting, 1 July 2003 formal meeting
  • 16-17 July 2003 informal meeting, 18 July 2003 formal meeting
  • July–August 2003: preparations for the Cancún Ministerial Conference
  • 10–14 September 2003: the Cancún Ministerial Conference


The July 2004 package (September 2003 to 1 August 2004)  back to top

Meetings and timetable

  • March, April and June 2004 agriculture negotiations meetings
  • July 2004 “July package” meetings under General Council and Trade Negotiations Committee, including a session on agriculture, 21 July
  • 1 August 2004 framework agreed


The post-framework “modalities” phase (September 2004–)  back to top

Meetings and timetable

  • 6–8 October 2004. First reading: Green Box domestic support, export credit/guarantees/insurance; exporting state trading enterprises; food aid, ad valorem equivalents of specific duties; special safeguard mechanism for developing countries
  • 15–19 November 2004. First reading: tariff quota administration; base for tariff quota expansion; tropical products and goods produced as substitutes for narcotics; methodology for product-specific AMS (Amber Box) caps; base period for domestic support commitments. More details: ad valorem equivalents of specific duties; exporting state trading enterprises; food aid; export credit/guarantees/insurance; Green Box domestic support. Specialist group consultation: ad valorem equivalents of specific duties
  • 13–17 December 2004
  • 7–11 February 2005
  • 14–18 March 2005
  • 13–19 April 2005
  • 30 May–3 June 2005
  • 11–15 July 2005


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