Minimum Market Access Under the GATT
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A major objective of the Uruguay Round negotiation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is to bring agricultural commodities under general GATT rules and disciplines. The United States and the Cairns Group countries (with the exception of Canada) are insisting on tariffication of all nontariff barriers (NTBs) to trade without exception. On the other hand, the European Community (EC) and Japan are reluctant to open their respective domestic markets for certain agricultural commodities. To break the negotiation deadlock, Arthur Dunkel, the Director General of the GATT, put forward a compromise proposal (the Dunkel proposal) which has become the basis for the final round of talks currently in progress. Among other things, the Dunkel proposal (1991) calls for countries to replace all existing nontariff barriers to trade by tariffs and to ensure minimum access to their domestic markets if imports have been less than 5 percent of domestic consumption. Specifically, the Dunkel proposal calls for importing countries in the 1993 starting period to provide a minimum access of 3 percent of the domestic consumption in the base period (average of 1986 through 1988 consumption). They will gradually increase the minimum access level to 5 percent of the base period domestic consumption by 1999, if base period imports are below these thresholds.