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

March 2002 to 31 March 2003: ‘modalities’

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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.

Click for more on the Doha agenda This 12-month programme deals with one of the most critical stages of the agriculture negotiations. It will set “modalities” or targets (including numerical targets) for achieving the objectives set out in the Doha Ministerial Declaration: “substantial improvements in market access; reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support”. It will also include some rule-making. This stage will therefore determine the shape of the negotiations’ final outcome.

The “modalities” will be used for members to produce their offers or “comprehensive draft commitments”. The Doha Ministerial Declaration says this has to be done by the Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, 10–14 September 2003, a few months after the 31 March 2003 deadline for modalities. The negotiations themselves are to end by 1 January 2005 as part of the Doha agenda’s single undertaking.

The programme begins with technical work on detailed possibilities for each of the three main areas of the Agriculture Agreement: export subsidies/competition; market access; and domestic support. Special treatment for developing countries will be an integral part of all of these, and non-trade concerns will be taken into account.

Towards the end of 2002, these ideas will be brought together in an overview document. Intensified negotiations after the New Year would then produce the “modalities” document by 31 March 2003.

The programme was agreed after a series of consultations that produced the necessary consensus backing.

The ‘modalities’ programme’s timetable   “Nutshell” page

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