Agricultural trade needs more reform

OECD Observer

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (URAA) has had only a limited impact on world agricultural trade, with average bound tariffs on agricultural products still above 40%, ten times the level on manufactured goods, and the rates on some agricultural products exceeding 500%.

This is the conclusion of a series of seven OECD reports which also examine why achievements so far have been modest, and suggest areas where further reform is required. The reports were presented in Geneva where further agricultural trade negotiations are currently under way in the WTO.

"The challenge now facing WTO members is to build upon the foundation of the URAA to further reduce trade distortions," said the report evaluating implementation of the URAA in OECD countries. As well as implementation of the agreement, the reports cover the concerns of transition economies, export credits and export subsidies, and the role of state trading enterprises in agriculture and environmental issues.

While the URAA was a major step forward because it was the first time agriculture had been included in a worldwide trade accord, its impact was "rather limited in practical terms", said Gerard Viatte, head of the OECD Agriculture Directorate. "We're still faced with important protectionism by OECD countries."

When it comes to domestic support for farmers, three countries or regions in the OECD are chiefly responsible, with the European Union, Japan and the United States between them accounting for 90% of the total.

©OECD Observer No 226/227, Summer 2001

Economic data


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