TWN Trade and Development Series No. 17

WTO Agreement on Agriculture: Deficiencies and Proposals for Change

Author: Bhagirath Lal Das
ISBN: 983-9747-68-1
Year Published: 2001
No. of pages: 24
Price: US$8.00 (inclusive of postage cost by air mail)

The TWN Trade and Development Series is a series of papers published by Third World Network on trade and development issues that are of public concern, particularly in the South. The series is aimed at generating discussion and contributing to the advancement of appropriate development policies oriented towards fulfilling human needs, social equity and environmental sustainability.

About the book:

With the coming into force in 1995 of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture, a serious start was made into the normal discipline of the multilateral rules governing international trade.

While the Agreement sets specific commitments in a sector that had hitherto largely been the subject of national policymaking, its rules have contributed to a state of imbalance in terms of their differential application and impact on the various WTO Member countries. This paper examines the iniquities that have arisen with the implementation of the Agreement's provisions, and finds the developing countries to be mainly at the receiving end of this unfair situation.

The author lists and elaborates on the deficiencies of the Agreement and provides specific suggestions, culled from some of his earlier works, on how these can be redressed. The analysis and proposals set forth in this paper are particularly apposite in light of the ongoing WTO agriculture negotiations, raising the need for developing-country Members to safeguard a sector which, in many respects, involves interests no less important than considerations of national security.

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 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 organisations.


1. The 'Big Bang' in agriculture
South should produce own staple food
Assessing the impact of implementation
Improvements needed in the agriculture agreement

2. The AoA: An imbalanced, inequitable agreement
Main positive features
Main deficiencies and imbalances
Required improvements

3. Proposed specific changes needed in agriculture agreement