WTO Doha Round: The Agricultural Negotiations Page: 2 of 41
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WTO Doha Round: The Agricultural Negotiations
The pace of efforts to revive suspended World Trade Organization Doha Round
trade negotiations has quickened as the July 2007 expiration for fast-track or trade
promotion authority for expedited congressional consideration of trade agreement
legislation approaches. Although technical negotiations have addressed specific
formulas for reducing trade-distorting farm support and tariffs, high-level political
discussions have yet to produce a satisfactory compromise among WTO members for
future agricultural trade liberalization.
Negotiations were suspended in July 2006 when a core group of WTO member
countries - the United States, the European Union (EU), Brazil, India, Australia,
and Japan - known as the G-6 reached an impasse over specific methods to achieve
the broad aims of the round for agricultural trade: substantial reductions in trade-
distorting domestic subsidies, elimination of export subsidies, and substantially
increased market access for agricultural products.
The WTO is unique among the various fora for international trade negotiations
in that it brings together its entire 150-country membership to negotiate a common
set of rules to govern international trade in agricultural products, industrial goods,
and services. Regarding agriculture, because policy reform is addressed across three
broadly inclusive fronts - export competition, domestic support, and market access
- WTO negotiations provide a framework for give and take to help foster mutual
Doha Round negotiators were operating under a deadline effectively imposed
by the expiration of U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA), which permits the
President to negotiate trade deals and present them to Congress for expedited
consideration. To meet congressional notification requirements under TPA, an
agreement would have to be completed by the end of March 2007. TPA, which could
be extended by Congress, preserves Congress's key role in approving trade
agreements while providing the President with credibility to negotiate with trading
partners who otherwise might fear that Congress would amend an agreement that had
As a result of the suspension of the negotiations, a major source of pressure for
U.S. farm policy change will have dissipated. Supporters of farm bill changes were
looking to a Doha Round agreement to require changes in U.S. farm subsidies to
make them more compatible with world trade rules. Proponents of continuing farm
subsidy programs appear strengthened by the indefinite suspension of the Doha talks.
The United States must still meet obligations under existing WTO agricultural
agreements, and some trade analysts think that, without a new trade agreement, there
could be an increase in litigation by WTO member countries alleging they are harmed
by U.S. farm subsidies.
This report assesses the status of agricultural negotiations in the Doha Round
and will be updated as developments unfold.
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WTO Doha Round: The Agricultural Negotiations, report, January 22, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806155/m1/2/: accessed November 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.