The agricultural negotiations under the Uruguay Round were not easy, as the broad scope of the negotiations and their political sensitivity inevitably took a long time to reach agreement on the new rules and it took a great deal of technical work to create solid means to formalize commitments in policy areas beyond the scope of previous GATT practice. The agreement on agriculture and the agreement on the application of health and plant health measures were negotiated in parallel and a decision on the possible negative impacts of the reform programme on the least developed developing countries and net food-importing developing countries was also part of the overall outcome. 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. The European Union`s consolidated commitments covered 1,764 tariff lines. The average consolidated food tariff, which was 26% at the beginning of the implementation period, was only 17% at the end of the period. In addition, the European Union imposed zero or minimal tariffs on 775 lines on a total of 1,764 lines. Only 8% of tariffs have a duty of more than 50%.
These peaks apply to dairy products, beef, cereals and grain products, as well as sugar and sweeteners. With regard to tariff quotas, the European Union has set a total of 87 quotas, 37 of which are covered by the `minimum access` and 44 by `current access`. In 2014, about 71% of agricultural and food imports, worth EUR 72 billion, were imported into the EU duty-free. WTO members made important decisions on agriculture at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015. These include the obligation to remove agricultural export subsidies, decisions on public storage for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries and trade rules for cotton. Domestic support regimes for agriculture are governed by the agriculture agreement, which came into force in 1995 and was negotiated during the Uruguay Round (1986-1994). The long-term goal of the AoA is to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system and to initiate a reform process through negotiations on promised commitments and safeguards and by defining more effective and operationally effective rules and disciplines. Agriculture is therefore special, because the sector has its own agreement, the provisions of which are given priority. Introducing Agricultural Trade within the WTO Links to the Agricultural Department of the WTO Guide “WTO Agreement” On the eve of the Uruguay Round negotiations, it became increasingly clear that the causes of confusion in global agriculture went beyond the import access issues, which had been the traditional focus 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.