Agriculture, as is well known, was among the most difficult issues facing the trade negotiators in the Uruguay Round. Disagreement on the modalities of negotiation in agriculture caused the Montreal Mid-term Meeting to be adjourned in December 1988, causing the round to lose momentum. Again, at the final meeting in December 1990, the negotiations on agriculture held up progress on a package, though other aspects of the negotiations were probably also not ready to be concluded. Agricultural talks consumed most of 1991 and 1992 before the United States and the European Union reached an agreement, and even then this Blair House Accord almost came unraveled in 1993. The problems of agriculture will not subside just because agreement has been reached. The World Trade Organization (WTO), which was set up to administer the Uruguay Round outcome and to take over the functions of the GATT, will have as one of its most difficult tasks the implementation of an ambitious and wide-ranging Agreement on Agriculture.
This agreement attempts to bring agriculture under the full disciplines of international trade rules by a three-pronged attack on the existing trade distortions. It mandates the conversion of all nontariff import measures to bound
The author is Professor of Economics at the Food Research Institute, Stanford University. The paper has benefited from the comments of the participants at the Brookings Institution Conference. A more detailed paper on the same subject has been prepared for the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium. A paper by Tangermann deals with the more technical aspects of implementing the agreement.1