Agriculture Negotiations at the WTO: Context Setting and Intelligence Report February-April 2001


by ICTSD

Agricultural Trade and Sustainable Development Series • Issue Paper 3

No 3: Agriculture Negotiations at the WTO: Context Setting and Intelligence Report February-April 2001 0.16 MB

This report constitutes the last of a three-part series detailing the developments in the agriculture trade negotiations currently underway at the World Trade Organisation.

Building upon the first two reports in the series, the present report examines the salient issues emerging within the WTO agriculture negotiations. Bear in mind, though, when reading through this assessment, that by virtue of its early stage of development and its dynamism, the negotiation process continues to be very uncertain. Strategic alliances, such as the Cairns Group, although proving very successful in driving the negotiations’ agenda on specific issues, may begin to weaken as the negotiation enters into more serious technical discussions and bargaining.

Since the last report, participation in the WTO agriculture negotiations has flourished, particularly from the African membership. In the interim between the Fifth and the end of the Sixth Special Session, 10 additional proposals were submitted bringing the total number of proposals to 44. Three technical submissions have also been received.

Perhaps, the most significant development to have occurred within the negotiations since the release of the last report has been the adoption of a work programme which will structure the next year of negotiations. This is important not simply because it signals the willingness of Members to proceed with the talks, but also because it moves the negotiation away from the posturing dialogue which characterised phase one and towards more technical dialogue better suited for concession bargaining

The report is subdivided into three main sections:

  • Section 1 is a brief introduction placing the agriculture negotiations within the logistical context of the WTO;
  • Section 2 extrapolates from the negotiation those themes that are gaining in significance as the negotiation progresses;
  • Section 3 provides descriptive and analytical detail of selected proposals that were submitted to the negotiation.
  • Section 4 discusses briefly those emerging themes which will be highly relevant to the negotiation in the coming months.

The methodology used in compiling this report combined extensive outreach to country delegates based in Geneva as well as representatives of local non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations with a thorough assessment of the country proposals and official statements submitted to the WTO Secretariat during the course of the last several months.