The United States is pursuing trade
liberalization with many developed and developing countries. Having access to
growing foreign agriculture markets is essential to U.S. farmers who produce far
more than domestic buyers can consume.
Trade negotiations and policies
boost prospects for food and agricultural markets in developing
countries by stimulating economic growth and development. With access to
growing markets, American producers will have greater opportunities to
grow and develop their businesses.
For developing country consumers, liberalized agricultural
trade policies mean better and more diverse diets and
rising incomes that foster development
and growth. For American consumers, liberalized agricultural trade
policies mean even greater access to the bounty of global markets.
Efforts to Liberalize Trade Through Policy Reform
Prior to 2001, international trade negotiations have
focused mostly on manufactured goods. In 2001,
Trade Organization (WTO) members, including the United States, met in
and agreed to begin talks to lower tariffs and
other barriers to free and fair agricultural trade.
The United States believes this is a historic
opportunity not only to help its farmers, ranchers, and growers export more, but
also to improve the lives of producers and consumers in the developing world and
around the globe. Therefore, the United States has worked diligently to
negotiate a fair agreement on export competition, market access, and domestic support.
Taken as a package, the U.S. proposal would result in reductions in trade
barriers for agricultural products, greater equity in world agriculture, and
expanding growth opportunities for the sale of agricultural products.
Revised Agricultural Modalities Texts
Falconer Agricultural Text (February 2008)
Revised Agricultural Modalities (07/17/07; .pdf)
On July 17, 2007, Ambassador Crawford Falconer, chairperson of the
agriculture negotiations, circulated his 45-page revised draft “modalities”
containing formulas for cutting tariffs and trade-distorting subsidies, and
Trade Delivers Growth, Jobs, Prosperity and
Brings New Members in to Rules-Based Trading
Trade Policy Today: Building on NAFTA and the Uruguay Round
Two major trade agreements, both taking
effect in the mid-1990s, shape agricultural trade today:
Regional and bilateral trade agreements
form an integral part of the U.S. approach to international trade
policy. Through NAFTA, Canada, Mexico, and the United States have
eliminated numerous barriers to the economic integration of these three
countries. As a result of NAFTA, the United States has much closer economic ties with
With the hope of building on NAFTA’s
success, the United States has entered negotiations with 33 other
nations in the Western Hemisphere to form a Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA). The United States has forged bilateral free trade
agreements with Israel,
Chile, and it is
committed to securing similar bilateral or regional agreements with
Central America, and
Africa, among others.
Uruguay Round: The Uruguay Round was an important first
step by members of the World Trade Organization toward liberalizing agricultural trade
policies. Prior to the Uruguay Round, agriculture had generally been
excluded in trade negotiations.
The Uruguay Round made four major
contributions to liberalizing agricultural trade:
- Rules-based trade was established for
agriculture, with a core framework:
- Market access;
- Domestic supports; and
- Export competition.
- Transparent rules-based approach to
market access was established that converted nontariff barriers,
including variable levies and quotas, into bound tariffs. This
process provides a framework that allows the negotiation of initial
and future tariff cuts.
- Reduced use of export subsidies,
decreasing both the spending on export subsidies and the volume of
subsidized goods. Previously, export subsidies affected agricultural trade by reducing world prices, hurting farmers in both
the importing country and in non-subsidizing exporting countries.
- Yielded modest reductions in domestic
support for agriculture by developed countries. The level of domestic support in the United States, Europe, and
Japan is lower than it was during the 1986-88 base period that
established domestic support ceilings for the Uruguay Round.
Also, new rules for
phytosanitary (SPS) measures were established by the Uruguay Round, as
well as other technical regulations in the SPS and the Technical
Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreements.