The implications of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture for developing countries



This manual should assist agricultural policy officials, as well as trade and macroeconomic policy makers, in developing countries to assess the economic and administrative implications of the Agricultural Agreement that emerged from the Uruguay Round of Multi-lateral Negotiations under the General Agreement for Tariffs and Trade. In addition, the manual will bring the commitments undertaken in the Agreement into the context of key policy issues that have a profound influence on the agricultural sector, namely:

  • Trends in world agricultural markets.
  • Internal policy reforms.
  • Food security objectives.
  • Regional integration/trading agreements.

The Agreement on Agriculture is one of a number concluded at the end of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Negotiations. Other agreements were also of considerable importance but, in the case of agriculture, this was the first international accord of its kind and it was therefore of special significance. The same remarks apply to a 'sister' agreement, that on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary measures. This may be of equal significance in the longer term. This Manual, however, is concerned with the Agreement on Agriculture.

Agriculture plays an important, if not pivotal role, in developing countries, especially those that are categorised as least developed, and as such it is vital that an understanding of the Agreement, and its linkages with agricultural, and general economic objectives, are widely appreciated.

The Manual is aimed at those working at a policy level in developing countries and aims to familiarise them with the Agreement on Agriculture and its likely impact on developing countries. It will be increasingly clear as you progress through the Manual that the impact on a particular country will be, in the majority of cases, unique and require careful examination. It is hoped that the Manual will facilitate such a process of country-specific examination.

Most developing countries are undergoing a process of economic reform, and in many developing countries this has been under the auspices of structural adjustment. In the case of the latter the reform process is, to a degree, externally generated. In light of this, we need to examine not only the impact the agreement is likely to have on trade and production policies, but we also need to examine the prevailing forces that affect policy internally. We hope that the reader is able to develop an understanding of the Agreement and to place this understanding into the context of the other influences which the Policy makers need to consider in agricultural policy formulation.

The main aims of this manual are to provide the reader with:

  • An understanding of the Agreement on Agriculture.

  • An understanding of the administrative and implementation procedures under the WTO.
  • The information to assess the likely impacts on agricultural policy and trade in a particular developing country.
  • An understanding of the linkages between internal agricultural policy reform and the external trading commitments which are binding.
  • An understanding of the implications for food security.
  • The constraints and opportunities for existing, and new, regional integration agreements.
  • The manual is divided into two Parts as follows:

    Part I: The Agreement on Agriculture, discusses the content of the Agreement providing detail on the background to GATT and the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the Agreement on Agriculture. Chapters 1 and 2 detail the Agreement examining its content and implications respectively. Chapter 1 is supplemented by an Annex on the World Trade Organisation which, although not related to the general focus on agriculture, is an important organisation with respect to its functions and procedures.

    Part II: The Policy Implications for Agriculture after the Uruguay Round Agreements, investigates the policy implications stemming from the Agreement with respect to the new trading opportunities and the implications of changes in agricultural commodity markets; the domestic policy making environment which will experience the dual influences of the Agreement and structural adjustment; food security; and regional trading opportunities.