In view of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), signed in Geneva in 1947, and the world trade organization (WTO) agreement signed in Marrakech in 1994 (OJ L 1994, p. The European Union and its Member States act in accordance with Article 207 (Common Trade Policy) and Articles 217 and 218 (International Agreements) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (5.2.2). 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.  These agreements provide some flexibility in the implementation of food-importing by developing countries, WTO members (special and differentiated treatment) and least developed countries (LDCs) and net food-importing developing countries (special provisions). 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. The 1947 GATT initially applied to agriculture, but was incomplete, and the signatory states (or “contracting parties”) excluded this sector from the scope of the principles set out in the general agreement.
During the period 1947-1994, members were allowed to use export subsidies for primary agricultural products and to impose import restrictions under certain conditions, so that major agricultural raw materials faced trade barriers in unusual proportions in other sectors. The road to a fair, market-oriented agricultural trade system has therefore been difficult and time-consuming; and the negotiations were finally concluded during the Uruguay Round. Agriculture has a special status in WTO agreements and trade agreements (signed in 1994 and entered into force on 1 January 1995), with the sector having a specific agreement, the agriculture agreement, whose provisions prevail.