Agri-Food Trade Policy
World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the legal and institutional foundation of the multilateral trading system with functions that include: administering the WTO trade agreements; creating a forum for trade negotiations; resolving trade disputes; monitoring national trade policies; providing technical assistance and training for developing countries; and cooperating with other international organizations involved in global economic policymaking.
The WTO was established on January 1, 1995. Governments concluded the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations on December 15, 1993 and Ministers gave their political backing to the results by signing the Final Act at a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco in April 1994. The "Marrakesh Declaration" of April 15, 1994 affirmed that the results of the Uruguay Round would "strengthen the world economy and lead to more trade, investment, employment, and income growth throughout the world". The WTO is the embodiment of the Uruguay Round results and the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Legal texts of the WTO agreements are available on the WTO's web site.
The WTO has agreements in place covering a wide range of issues including trade in goods, services, dispute settlement and trade-related intellectual property rights. Agreements of particular significance to the agri-food sector include the *Agreement on Agriculture, the *Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the *Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the *Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
*PDF format, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
The WTO Agreement on Agriculture was a significant first step towards a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system. It includes specific commitments by WTO Members to improve market access and reduce trade-distorting support and export subsidies. The WTO Web site provides a detailed explanation of the Agreement on Agriculture.
As required by Article 20 of the Agreement, agriculture negotiations began in 2000 to continue the process of reform started in the Uruguay Round. These talks have now been incorporated into the broader negotiating agenda set at the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. On agriculture, the Doha Ministerial Declaration set clear and ambitious objectives on market access, domestic support and export subsidies for concluding the negotiations.
For more information, please contact:
Deputy Director (WTO Issues)
Telephone: (613) 773-1766
Fax: (613) 773-1755