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

Update Phase 2: special agricultural safeguards

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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
> Safeguards
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.

Special agricultural safeguards

See also Phase 1. Among the proposed ideas are:

  • Retaining the present special safeguard and adding a new safeguard to deal with seasonal and perishable products. The proposal includes ideas for formulas. Critics say this would increase protectionism
  • A countervailing mechanism for developing countries to use on subsidized imports from developed countries. The right would be automatic without any need to prove any damage. Some critics say this would undermine countries’ legitimate right to subsidize exports, including within the minimal (“de minimis” ceilings), and that it could obstruct trade. They prefer reducing large subsidies.
  • Preserving the special safeguard. Some countries taking this view are also willing to extend the right to use the safeguards to countries that did not “tariffy” or previously reserve the right.
  • Allowing developing countries to use special safeguards for all products. A number of developing countries who take this view also advocate scrapping the special safeguard in developed countries.

Within these views are different shades of opinion. Some countries see the safeguards as permanently necessary measures. Others describe them as a confidence-building means of encouraging countries to lower tariffs.

Papers or “non-papers” from: Eight developing countries (Cuba, Dominican Rep, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe), five developing countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Philippines and Thailand), Japan, Namibia, Norway, and Switzerland.

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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.