Agriculture and the WTO

Agriculture and the WTO

Towards a New Theory of International Agricultural Trade Regulation

Elgar International Economic Law series

Fiona Smith

International agricultural trade regulation remains problematic despite the creation of the WTO and a specific Agreement on Agriculture in 1995. Fiona Smith challenges this orthodoxy and presents a new conceptual method by which the problem of international agricultural trade in the WTO can be understood.

Chapter 3: Two models of disagreement

Fiona Smith

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, economics and finance, agricultural economics, international economics, environment, agricultural economics, law - academic, international economic law, trade law


INTRODUCTION The preceding chapter sought to challenge the existing orthodoxy of how the problem of agricultural trade regulations should be seen. It also suggested that each person’s perception of the problem is based on three factors: first, their knowledge and experience of the rules;1 secondly, how the subject is seen as a whole, that is, how each person discerns patterns within otherwise random human behaviour;2 and thirdly, how they fit their knowledge and experience with the pattern discerned in order to identify what the problem is.3 The means of fitting the problem together therefore depends on the ability of each person to realize a coherent view of the whole, based on their understanding of concepts such as ‘trade’ and ‘agriculture’ in the light of the foregoing factors. Current understandings of the problem of agricultural trade identified in Chapter 2 might in this way be taken to imply a ‘model’ of what disagreement in this context is. In this chapter I suggest that there are two other ways in which the problem can profitably be understood. These two models should not be seen as alternative explanations of a single problem, but as dimensions of a more complex problem which merge and overlap at various points. For the purposes of exposition, however, the two models and their constituent parts can be artificially distinguished and explored separately. But it is important to keep in mind that this separation is artificial, and that both ‘models’ are at work within the pattern of...

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