We provide an overview of major developments in multi- and plurilateral trade agreements over the last twenty years with a focus on the implications for agricultural and food markets. We take stock of what has been accomplished in market integration, remaining obstacles to trade, events that have changed the trade landscape, and emerging issues. Agricultural tariffs have fallen through commitments made in the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture and through the proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs). Nevertheless, agricultural trade remains distorted with some extremely high tariffs. RTAs have achieved progress on nontariff measures and other beyond-the-border frictions. World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agricultural trade distortions have stalled because of their complexity and divergent political interests among WTO members. In addition, the dispute settlement mechanism no longer functions. The WTO will have to adjust to a world of RTAs and use its tools and procedures to support the multilateral trading system by promoting increased transparency of RTAs and their conformity with existing WTO agreements. The WTO can also use existing tools to head off disputes using specific trade concern mechanisms, such as those implemented through the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) committees.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)