Agricultural subsidies that fall into the WTO`s green box are policies that are not constrained by the trade agreement because they are not considered trade-distorting. WTO members made important decisions on agriculture at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2015. These include the obligation to remove agricultural export subsidies, decisions on public storage for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries and trade rules for cotton. At the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013, ministers also agreed on a range of agriculture-related issues. WTO members have taken steps to reform the agricultural sector and address high subsidies and trade barriers that distort agricultural trade. The overall goal is to establish a fairer trading system that improves market access and improves the livelihoods of farmers around the world. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995, is an important step towards reforming agricultural trade and towards fairer and more competitive development. The Committee on Agriculture is monitoring the implementation of the agreement. The blue box includes all aid payments that are not subject to the Amber Reduction Agreement, as these are direct payments under a production limitation program. Export subsidies are the third pillar.
The 1995 agricultural agreement required industrialized countries to reduce export subsidies by at least 36% (in value terms) or by 21% (by volume) over a six-year value. For developing countries, the agreement called for reductions of 24% (in value) and 14% (in volume) over ten years. In the 1980s, public payments to agricultural producers in industrialized countries generated large crop surpluses, which were unloaded by export subsidies on the world market, causing food prices to fall. Tax pressure on safeguards has increased, due to both lower import duty revenues and increased domestic spending. Meanwhile, the global economy has entered a cycle of recession and the perception that market opening could improve economic conditions has led to calls for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations.  The cycle would open up markets for high-tech services and goods and ultimately generate much-needed efficiency gains. To engage developing countries, many of which were new international disciplines, agriculture, textiles and clothing were added to the big deal.  News on Agricultural Negotiations See News on Cotton Trade at the WTO Links to the Agricultural Department of the WTO Guide “Wto Understanding” WTO Information on Agriculture, including WTO Members` Communications Video: How to Use AGIMS The WTO Information Office says that opponents of the Blue Box want it removed because payments are only partially decoupled , or they want an agreement to reduce the use of these subsidies. “Others say that the blue box is an important tool to support and reform agriculture and achieve certain “non-commercial” objectives, and argue that it should not be restricted because it distorts trade less than other types of support.” The agreement has been criticized by civil society groups for reducing customs protection for small farmers, an important source of income in developing countries, while allowing rich countries to continue subsidizing agriculture in their own countries.