The Agreement on Agriculture is an international treaty of the World Trade Organization. It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO on January 1 1995.

Three PillarsEdit

The AoA has three central concepts, or "pillars": domestic support, market access and export subsidies

Domestic supportEdit

The first pillar of the AoA is "domestic support". The AoA structures domestic support (subsidies) into three categories or "boxes": a Green Box, an Amber Box and a Blue Box. The Green Box contains fixed payments to producers for environmental programs, so long as the payments are "decoupled" from current production levels. The Amber Box contains domestic subsidies that governments have agreed to reduce but not eliminate. The Blue Box contains subsidies which can be increased without limit, so long as payments are linked to production-limiting programs. [1]

The AoA's domestic support system currently allows Europe and the USA to spend $380 billion every year on agricultural subsidies alone. "It is often still argued that subsidies are needed to protect small farmers but, according to the World Bank, more than half of EU support goes to 1% of producers while in the US 70% of subsidies go to 10% of producers, mainly agri-businesses." [2]. The effect of these subsidies is to flood global markets with below-cost commodities, depressing prices and undercutting producers in poor countries – a practice known as dumping.

Market AccessEdit

"Market access" is the second pillar of the AoA, and refers to the reduction of tariff (or non-tariff) barriers to trade by WTO member-states. The 1995 AoA required tariff reductions of:

  • 36% average reduction by developed countries, with a minimum per tariff line reduction of 15% over six years.
  • 24% average reduction by developing countries with a minimum per tariff line reduction of 10% over ten years.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were exempted from tariff reductions, but either had to convert non–tariff barriers to tariffs—a process called tariffication—or "bind" their tariffs, creating a "ceiling" which could not be increased in future.[3]

Export subsidiesEdit

"Export subsidies" is the third pillar of the AoA. The 1995 AoA required developed countries to reduce export subsidies by at least 35% (by value) or by at least 21% (by volume) over the five years to 2000.


The AoA has been criticised by civil society groups for reducing tariff protections for small farmers – a key source of income for developing countries. At the same time, the AoA has allowed rich countries to continue paying their farmers massive subsidies which developing countries cannot afford.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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