9 Trade and agriculture
Trade in agricultural products has long been one of the most prominent and acrimonious issues on the global trade agenda. Prior to the Uruguay Round, the GATT placed many fewer disciplines on agricultural trade than on any other product sector. Although Article XI of the GATT prohibits quantitative restrictions, it contains a number of exceptions which relate specifically to agricultural trade. In particular, Article XI.2(a) permits export prohibitions or restrictions temporarily applied to prevent or relieve critical shortages of foodstuffs or other products essential to the exporting contracting party. Article XI.2(c) permits import restrictions on any agricultural or fisheries product necessary to the enforcement of government measures which operate: i) to restrict the quantities of the like domestic product permitted to be marketed or produced, or ii) to remove a temporary surplus of the like domestic product. In principle, any restrictions applied under Article XI.2(c)(i) shall not be such as will reduce the total of imports relative to the total of domestic production, as compared with the proportion that might reasonably be expected to prevail between the two in the absence of restrictions, although this provision has not been rigorously enforced. Article XI.2(c)(i) is particularly important, because it permits countries to restrict imports in order to sustain domestic supply management schemes designed to increase the price of domestic agricultural products.
Apart from Article XI, Article XVI of the GATT provides that contracting parties should seek to avoid the use of subsidies on...
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