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

Update Phase 2: Rural development

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> In a nutshell
Proposals received in Phase 1
Proposals received in Phase 2
Alliances table
Phase 1
Export subsidies, competition and restrictions
Market access
Domestic support: amber, blue and green boxes
Developing countries
Transition economies
Non-trade concerns
Animal welfare and food quality
The peace clause

Phase 2
Tariffs and quotas
Domestic support: amber, blue and green boxes
Export subsidies and restrictions
State trading
Food security
Food safety
> Rural development
Geographical indications
Trade preferences
Food aid
Consumer information and labelling
Sectoral initiatives
Development box, single commodity producers, small island developing states, special and differential treatment
Additional issues (food aid, the Green Box, tariff quota expansion)

Modalities 2002–2003
Market access
Domestic support


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.

Rural development

See also Phase 1 (developing countries and non-trade concerns). Discussion on this topic has been one of the lengthiest in Phase 2. All papers and comments say this is important, particularly in developing countries. But is it also important for developed countries? Broadly, participants have one of three answers: yes, even if details are different; yes, specially for transition economies; no, or yes but there is a significant difference.

Several developing countries advocate various special provisions for dealing with their problems of food security, rural poverty, etc. These include additional transition periods, and a “development box” of measures that would be added to the green box. One proposal is for the development box to incorporate a “positive list” approach, i.e. each member would list the agricultural products it is ready to discipline under the Agriculture Agreement.

Several developed and developing countries emphasize the need for market orientation and the removal of distortions, even if flexibility is allowed to deal with rural poverty. Some warn that each country’s measures should not hurt others — they should be targeted, decoupled and transparent, and should move away from border and production measures.

Others argue that some price/production intervention is necessary to deal with rural development problems even in developed countries.

Papers or “non-papers” from: Cyprus, nine developing countries (Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe), Norway, and Japan.

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The second phase consists of detailed discussions on the many issues raised in the first phase, organized topic by topic. The meetings are largely “informal”, meaning that there is no official record except for chairperson’s summaries presented at the formal meetings. Papers presented so far have not been official WTO documents. Despite the increased complexity, developing countries continue to participate actively.