WTO Accession Commitments on Agriculture: Lessons for WTO Rule-Making

This chapter explains how accession negotiations have helped to further the agricultural reform process by upgrading and deepening the existing multilateral rules on trade in agriculture. It provides a broad overview of the existing multilateral disciplines in the area of agriculture, as contained in the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). Using the experience of the thirty-six concluded accessions, the chapter suggests that a number of commitments, such as extensive market access commitments, ambitious domestic support commitments and comprehensive bindings with regard to export duties, helped establish high benchmarks vis-à-vis the undertakings of the original members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In market access, the commitments of acceded members are primarily in the form of reductions in tariff bindings, with a very limited use of tariff rate quotas. In domestic support, the commitments of the acceded members have been negotiated based on the respective recourse to such support during a recent three-year period, dependent on the timing of the individual accessions. These commitments are generally more ambitious than the corresponding commitments of the original members under the AoA, which were derived based on the domestic support policy framework existing in 1986–8. Similarly, in the field of export subsidies, the acceded governments’ ambitious efforts to eliminate these highly distorting subsidies helped to create a strong momentum in the broader agriculture negotiations, leading to the eventual agreement on the global elimination of agricultural export subsidies at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in 2015.

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