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1.   Introduction                                                                                  

2.   Some Suggestions for Modalities in the Area of Market Access

(A) Tariff Levels

(a)  Reducing current distortions in rights and obligations

(i)   Option of direct import control in developing countries

(b)  Special and differential (S&D) treatment for developing countries

(i)   Food security

(ii)  Rural development

(c)  General tariff reduction

(i)   Tariff reduction process

(B) Special Safeguards (SSG)

Correction of inequity in special safeguard

(C) Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ)

Improvement of TRQ           

3.   Some Suggestions for Modalities in the Area of Domestic Support                       

(a)   Reducing current distortions in rights and obligations

(i)    Reduction of “green box”, “blue box” subsidies

(ii)   Timeframe for elimination

(b)  S&D for developing countries

(i)    Food security

(ii)   Rural development

4.   Some Suggestions for Modalities in the Area of Export Subsidies                     

(a)  Correcting inequity and imbalance

(b)  S&D for developing countries


BLURB: The first round of the WTO negotiations on agriculture has taken place in special sessions of the Committee on Agriculture in the areas of market access, domestic support and export subsidy. Discussions are focusing on the ‘modalities’ which will define the principles and design on which the rest of the negotiations will be based.

The trend of discussions gives rise to the apprehension that the negotiations on modalities for commitments may broadly proceed along the same lines as those adopted in the Uruguay Round. Clearly the pattern and the structure of the guidelines followed in the Uruguay Round will not be appropriate for the ongoing negotiations on modalities. This pattern will be iniquitous and unbalanced, even if the differences in the percentages and time periods as between the developed and developing countries are wider than in the Uruguay Round.

With the experience of the problems emerging out of the current WTO Agreement on Agriculture, an entirely different pattern and structure are needed for the guidelines for commitments in agriculture in the current negotiations. It is advisable for the developing countries to suggest a new set of elements for the guidelines that are being worked out in the ongoing negotiations, so as to save themselves from the current dangers and to promote their development interests.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bhagirath Lal Das was formerly India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) forum. He has also served as Director of International Trade Programmes at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He is currently a consultant and advisor to several intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.