The WTO not only handles the implementation of the current agreements, but also intends to further develop the regulatory framework. This is the reason for the negotiation rounds, from which the WTO as an institution has emerged. The current round on world trade talks, the so-called Doha Round, started in 2001. With the final objectives to reduce trade barriers and increase transparency, different topics are negotiated, including agriculture.
The Doha Round covers a package of trade topics which ministers of economic affairs and trade of the WTO members have been negotiating since their 2001 conference in Doha and were supposed to conclude by 2005. It has, however, not yet been possible to finalize negotiations due to members' differing views on several topics.
The negotiations mandate for the agriculture sector has five goals:
- Improved market access
- Elimination of export subsidies
- Reduction of trade-distorting domestic support
- Dealing with specific problems of developing countries
- Inclusion of non-trade issues such as food security or rural development (therefore it is also called the "Doha Development Round")
The agriculture negotiations take place in special meetings of the Committee on Agriculture, which are scheduled as required. The countries have joined together in negotiating groups, which coordinate mutual interests, positions and proposals. Switzerland is a member of the G10, a group of net-importers of agricultural products, whose members include Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Norway, South Korea and Taiwan. The G10 members share market access sensitivity and advocate non-trade issues in agriculture.
The agriculture negotiations have progressed significantly with regard to content. The current status is reflected in the modalities text of December 2008 - the last consolidated draft. However, negotiations slowed down considerably after 2008. The Ministers' Conference of December 2011 recognized that there are significant disagreements in the Doha negotiations and that it will not be realistic to conclude the entire negotiation package anytime soon. The work in Geneva is thus
concentrating on partial aspects of the modalities text and is aiming at an early partial completion of the Doha package.
Last modification 12.08.2016