Agriculture in the Doha Round

image of Agriculture in the Doha Round

In 2003, the WTO Ministerial Meeting at Cancun failed to achieve any significant progress on the liberalisation of agricultural markets in developed or developing countries. If the present round of negotiations is to be successful, it must continue the momentum for reform achieved through the Uruguay Round. Agricultural liberalisation has the potential to deliver significantly improved welfare in both developed and developing countries. This report prepared for the Commonwealth Secretariat by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, looks at the benefits of liberalisation and examines the closely interrelated use of the three pillars of domestic support, export subsidies and restrictions on market access in distorting world agricultural trade. It outlines the negotiating positions of the key players, and suggests possible areas for compromise and concessions in an attempt to drive forward reform crucial to a successful outcome.



Possible Compromises

The objective of the multilateral trade system embodied in the WTO is to obtain economic benefits for its members. The architects of the system agreed that the only route to achieving the required benefits was through ‘progress towards open markets and liberalised trade' (WTO, 1998b: 4). The more open markets become, the greater are the opportunities for competitive producers to generate wealth and the greater the variety of competitively priced products available to consumers.


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