Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement
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Research Handbook on the WTO Agriculture Agreement

New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law

  • Research Handbooks on the WTO series

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta

Agriculture has been the unruly horse of the GATT/WTO system for a long time and efforts to halter it are still ongoing. This Research Handbook focuses on aspects of agricultural production and trade policy that are recognized for their importance but are often kept out of the limelight, such as the implication of national and international agricultural production and trade policies on national food security, global climate change, and biotechnology. It provides a summary of the state of the WTO agriculture negotiations as well as the relevant jurisprudence, but also, and uniquely, it focuses on the new and emerging issues of agricultural trade law and policy that are rarely addressed in the existing literature.
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Chapter 1: The Agreement on Agriculture: Setting the Scene

Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta

Extract

Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta I. INTRODUCTION This volume brings together views and analyses by leading scholars and practitioners around the world on some of the most pressing issues of international agricultural trade law, policy and regulation, including the implication of national and international trade policies on national food security, global climate change, and biotechnology. While the WTO system occupies a central role in all matters of agricultural production and trade policy, many of these new challenges remain on the fringes of the WTO system. In this introductory chapter we provide an overview of the WTO system as it applies to agricultural trade, with the object of putting the new and emerging issues into their broader analytical and conceptual context. The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) marked a systemic shift in the international regulation of agricultural production and trade. The AoA put an end to an era of exceptionalism in which agriculture was excluded from key principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), particularly those on quantitative import restrictions under Article XI and export subsidies under Section B of Article XVI, while the remaining parts of the GATT were largely ignored by the major contracting parties. The AoA has now brought this to an end. But even the AoA does not subject agricultural products to the same rules as other products. Indeed, we have the AoA as a sector-specific agreement precisely because members of the WTO are not yet ready to treat...

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