In the run-up to the 1986 GATT Ministerial Conference in Punta del Este, Uruguay, agricultural lobbies in industrialized countries have vehemently opposed agricultural trade-offs. In this context, the idea of excluding « trade-neutral » production and subsidies from WTO commitments was first proposed in 1987 by the United States and soon replicated by the EU.  By guaranteeing continued support to farmers, it has also neutralized the opposition. In exchange for the integration of agriculture into WTO disciplines and the obligation to reduce trade-distorting subsidies in the future, developed countries could maintain subsidies that result in « no more than minimal trade distortion » in order to achieve different public policy objectives.  The Conference of State Ministers of Agriculture and Food on 14 September 2000 presented a document outlining the essential features of the agreement and the likely issues that would be being negotiated. The EU`s Ministry of Commerce supported the views expressed at the Conference of Ministers of State. These documents are likely available to the public to attract input from interested parties, although, as usual, they were released far too late to allow for meaningful debate. In accordance with Article 20 of the agreement, all members must submit their proposals by the end of December 2000. 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. The Agricultural Convention covers, in Appendix 1, a wide range of agricultural products that concern not only the commodities, but also the processed products of these products. The basic agricultural products covered by the agreement are wheat, milk and live animals.
It also includes by-products, such as bread, butter and meat, as well as all processed agricultural products, such as chocolate and cold cuts. This includes spirit drinks, wines and tobacco products, fibers such as cotton, wool and silk, as well as some raw animal skins used for catering. 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.