World Trade Organization: Progress in Agricultural Trade Negotiations May Be Slow
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIV
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WTO member countries intended to launch a new round of multilateral trade negotiations covering agriculture and other issues at their biennial Ministerial Conference last December in Seattle. The principal objectives of the United States and several other agricultural exporting countries for liberalizing agricultural trade included 1 elimination of export subsidies, 2 a reduction in trade- distorting domestic agricultural Support programs, and 3 an increase in market access for agricultural products in member countries. On the other hand, the European Union and other countries opposed any attempt to eliminate export subsidies. Trade ministers meeting in Seattle intended to conclude the ministerial conference with a ministerial declaration that would launch a new round and set the agenda for negotiations in each subject area, including agriculture. There is general agreement by conference participants that negotiations on agriculture made the most progress of any area at the Seattle conference. Countries had moved closer to reaching consensus on many of the issues to be addressed and on the time frames for completing agricultural negotiations in a new round. However, this progress was essentially lost when countries could not reach consensus on an agriculture text, and the conference was adjourned without launching a new round or issuing a ministerial declaration.
- Agricultural Economics