11 - Agricultural subsidies in the WTO green box: opportunities and challenges for developing countries  pp. 329-368

Agricultural subsidies in the WTO green box: opportunities and challenges for developing countries

By André Nassar, Maria Elba Rodriguez-Alcalá, Cinthia Costa and Saulo Nogueira

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11 years of green box usage

Perhaps because green box subsidies are not subject to commitments in the AoA, relatively few studies have analysed expenditure in this area. It is therefore not easy to find studies compiling notified expenditure and comparing situations among green box users. Although the WTO (2000) Secretariat background paper is one exception, this study has not subsequently been updated.

Moreover, the green box comprises different programme types and is divided into several categories, making it even harder to offer comparisons between them. Some existing analyses of green box categories focus on decoupled income support and direct payments to producers. The work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is particularly worthy of mention in this respect.

This section is based on a compilation of green box notifications for a selected number of developed and developing countries. The first part briefly introduces subsidy disciplines in the AoA and looks at traditional green box policies. The subsequent sections are supported by notifications from 1995 onwards.

Typical green box policies: legal arguments and interpretations

The AoA, established in the Uruguay Round, brought disciplines for the use of agricultural subsidies (domestic support and export subsidies) into the multilateral trading system for the first time, establishing limitations and reduction commitments. The agricultural subsidies were classified into three categories:

  • Amber box: domestic support measures that can cause distortion and for this reason are subject to reduction commitments based on the total aggregate measurement of support (AMS). The concept of de minimis must also be mentioned here: this represents a minimum subsidy allowance, which is 5 per cent of the value of production for developed countries and 10 per cent for developing countries.
  • […]
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