The Uruguay round Agreement on Agriculture

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture: Understanding its Importance and Impact

The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (URAA) is a crucial international agreement that was developed under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994. The URAA aimed to promote freer and fairer trade in agricultural products, reduce trade barriers, and increase market access for developing countries.

The URAA was signed by 123 countries and marked a significant milestone in the history of international trade negotiations. The agreement also had far-reaching effects on global trade, food security, and rural development.

Key Provisions of the Agreement

The URAA established a set of rules for agricultural trade that governed the following areas:

1. Tariffication

The URAA required WTO member countries to convert non-tariff barriers (such as import quotas and licensing requirements) into tariffs. This process, known as tariffication, was intended to make trade in agricultural products more transparent and predictable.

2. Reduction of Tariffs

The URAA also required member countries to reduce their tariffs on agricultural products. The level of tariff reduction varied according to the product and the country`s level of development.

3. Subsidies

The URAA sought to reduce trade-distorting subsidies that many countries used to support their agricultural sectors. The agreement set limits on the amount of support that member countries could provide to their farmers.

4. Market Access

The URAA aimed to increase market access for agricultural products by reducing trade barriers. It required member countries to grant market access for a minimum level of imports for each product.

Impact of the Agreement

The URAA had a significant impact on global agricultural trade. It opened up new markets for developing countries and reduced the trade barriers that had previously hindered their exports. The agreement also led to the reduction of tariffs and subsidies in many developed countries, making it easier for developing countries to compete in the global market.

However, the URAA has also been criticized for its impact on small farmers, particularly in developing countries. The reduction of tariffs and subsidies in developed countries has led to increased competition and lower prices for agricultural products. This has put pressure on small farmers who are unable to compete with large, mechanized farms in some parts of the world.

Overall, the URAA is an important agreement that has helped to promote freer and fairer trade in agricultural products. While it has had some negative consequences, particularly for small farmers, the agreement has played a key role in shaping the global agricultural trade landscape over the past few decades.