New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law
- Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta
Chapter 1: The Agreement on Agriculture: Setting the Scene
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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