Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements
AGRICULTURE NEGOTIATIONS: BACKGROUNDER

Update Phase 2: sectoral initiatives

Sectoral initiatives

See also Phase 1 (Market access: tariffs and tariff quotas).

Sectoral initiatives aim to reduce tariffs to zero for the same products when imported into all major importing countries. Advocates say agreement this proved useful in the Uruguay Round and it should be explored again in the current agriculture negotiations. They add that it could also be combined with eliminating tariff quotas and domestic supports on those products. Private sector organizations are already exploring this for certain products such as oilseeds and oilseed products, and the moves should be encouraged, advocates say.

Several countries oppose the idea outright on the grounds that it would distract attention away from more comprehensive liberalization, and that it would be almost impossible to strike a sectoral deal that would benefit developing countries.

Some say they are unconvinced but will continue to look at the prospects.

Papers or “non-papers” from: Canada.

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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.