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This report aims at providing a handy reference for those interested in basic facts concerning agricultural commodities. It draws on material presented by the Commodities and Trade Division at the Consultation on Commodity Price Problems, 25-26 March 2002, the proceedings of which have been issued separately.

The following report is divided into two parts. The first presents brief profiles for each of the major traded agricultural commodities. They provide a convenient summary of the most important economic and market characteristics of each commodity.

While the precise content of each profile differs to reflect commodity-specific key issues, all include descriptions of the general characteristics of the commodity concerned, the pattern of production and trade, market structure, institutions, trade policy measures, and major current issues and problems. Statistical information concerning production, trade and prices is presented graphically for easy reference.

The second part provides brief assessments for sixteen commodities or commodity groups of the status of implementation of various policy measures disciplined under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, and of issues arising in the new round of multi-lateral trade negotiations. The assessments are summaries of information collected from special questionnaires sent to FAO member countries, as well as from a variety of sources monitored by FAO Commodity Specialists. The categories of policies reported, where appropriate, are:

· Tariffs: TRQs, tariff escalation, etc.

· Measures treated differently, as noted in Blue, Green and Amber Boxes

· Various export measures, such as subsidies, taxes, prohibitions and restrictions

· Special topics, such as food security and safety, special agricultural safeguards, environment, state trading enterprises etc.

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