Implications of a GATT Agreement on Agriculture: The Known, the Unknown and the Unknowable

Patrick C. Westhoff
October 1991  [92-GATT 1]

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Suggested citation:

Westhoff, P.C. 1991. "Implications of a GATT Agreement on Agriculture: The Known, the Unknown and the Unknowable." CARD paper 92-GATT 1. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


International negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) seek to set rules governing trade in agricultural products as well as a wide variety of other products and services. The outcome of the negotiations is uncertain at this time, but it seems that if there is to be an agreement for agriculture, it will require countries to make modest reductions in internal support measures, export subsidies, and import barriers. The consequences of a GATT agreement for world agriculture cannot be known with certainty, especially if the specific terms of an agreement remain unknown. Research conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) demonstrates that the policy implications of a GATT agreement are very sensitive to specific GATT rules. Under most plausible sets of rules, the United Stated earns substantial "credits" for policy reforms already implemented, so future support reductions under a GATT agreement would be smaller for the United States than for most other countries.