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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

2 - Agriculture and the Doha Development Agenda

Summary

There is a mixture of views within East Asia about agricultural trade reform and hence about its inclusion in the Uruguay Round agreements. On the one hand, governments in the wealthier, densely populated countries are under pressure to continue to protect their farmers from import competition and to be seen to be providing an adequate degree of food security. In the countries with a stronger comparative advantage in agricultural products, on the other hand, governments are keen to secure more access to markets for their farmers' exports Sicular (1989; Anderson 1994). This difference of views within East Asia surfaces periodically in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as well as World Trade Organization (WTO) fora. Since it is mirrored in other regions of the world, too, agriculture is guaranteed to be a controversial part of the round of multilateral trade negotiations, launched in Doha in November 2001, just as it was in the Uruguay Round.

Given the high degree of distortion in world food markets that existed in the 1980s, every impartial observer agrees that one of the great achievements of the Uruguay Round was to start to bring agricultural policies under GATT discipline and to agree to return to the negotiating table by the turn of the century. Since the signing of the Uruguay Round accord in 1994, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to agricultural imports have been tariffied and bound and the tariff bindings progressively reduced.

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