Introduction to Agricultural Trade at the WTO Links to the Agriculture Department of the WTO`s “Understanding the WTO” Guide The members` transparency toolkit contains information on reporting formats and a manual on reporting obligations, as well as links to members` lists with commitments and other resources to promote member transparency in the agricultural sector. In September 2010, the framework was updated to cover a wider range of issues and a more detailed treatment of all aspects of food security. The WTO secretariat and other agencies involved in the task force contributed to the development of the framework. While the volume of world agricultural exports has increased significantly in recent decades, its growth rate has remained below that of industrial enterprises, resulting in a steady decline in the share of agriculture in world merchandise trade. In 1998, agricultural trade accounted for 10.5% of total merchandise trade, taking into account trade in services, while agriculture`s share of world exports was 8.5%. However, in the field of world trade, agriculture still lays ahead of sectors such as mining products, automotive products, chemicals, textiles and clothing, or iron and steel. Among agricultural products marketed internationally, food accounts for almost 80% of the total. The other main category of agricultural products is raw materials. Since the mid-1980s, trade in processed agricultural products and other quality agricultural products has grown much faster than trade in staple foodstuffs, such as cereals.

Before the Uruguay Round negotiations, it became increasingly clear that the causes of confusion in global agriculture went beyond the import access problems, which had been the traditional centre of gravity of the GATT negotiations. To reach the root causes of the problems, disciplines were considered essential for all agricultural trade measures, including national agricultural policy and agricultural export subsidies. In addition, clearer rules on health and plant health measures were deemed necessary, both in their own legislation and in avoiding the circumvention of stricter rules on access to imports through unjustified and protectionist application of food security, as well as animal and plant health measures. The Agreement on Agriculture (the Agreement) came into force on 1 January 1995. The preamble to the agreement recognizes that the long-term objective of the reform process under the Uruguay Round reform programme is to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trade system.