General negotiating themes
» General terms
» Agriculture
» Competition Policy
» Customs Procedures
» Dispute Settlement
» Government Procurement
» Intellectual Property Rights
» Investment
» Origin Regime
» Safeguards
» Services
» Subsidies, Anti-dumping and
   Countervailing Duties
» Tariffs and Non Tariff Measures
» Technical Barriers to Trade


The intent of this dictionary was to produce a broad listing of terms, which are commonly used in trade negotiations and especially within the context of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) with a view to providing an information tool for the public at large. The dictionary is presented in the four official languages of the FTAA: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The compilation does not attempt to present the entire universe of terms used nor does it seek to prejudge or to affect in any way definitions or approaches currently proposed by any country in any trade negotiation. In fact, many of the definitions included in the publicly-available Draft FTAA Agreement which are still the subject of difficult debates have been excluded from this dictionary. The definitions are based on widely available source material including other trade agreements.

An alphabetical listing of the terms is included to facilitate the use of the dictionary. The terms and their definitions are presented by general negotiating theme found in the FTAA and in other trade negotiations.

An electronic version of this document can be found on the following websites: IADB, OAS,  and ECLAC.




Aggregate measure of support for agricultural production (AMS) The AMS refers to an index that measures the monetary value of the extent of government support to a sector. The AMS, as defined in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, includes both budgetary outlays as well as revenue transfers from consumers to producers as a result of policies that distort market prices.
Amber box of domestic support measures (WTO Agreement on Agriculture) For agriculture, the domestic support measures considered to distort production and trade (with some exceptions) are classified under a category called amber box. Under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, countries adopted commitments to reduce the total value of these measures.
Blue box of domestic support measures (WTO Agreement on Agriculture) These measures refer to government support payments directly linked to the use of acreage or number of animals in agricultural production. It includes schemes which limit production by imposing production quotas or requiring farmers to set aside part of their land. The few countries using these subsidies argue these subsidies distort trade less than alternative amber box subsidies. These types of measures are exemptions from the general rule that all subsidies linked to production must be reduced or kept within defined minimal (“de minimis”) levels.
Cairns Group of Agriculture Exporting Countries A group of nations formed in 1986 at Cairns, Australia. The group seeks the removal of trade barriers and substantial reductions in subsidies affecting agricultural trade. These goals were in response to depressed commodity prices and reduced export earnings stemming from subsidy controversies. The members account for a significant portion of the world’s agricultural exports. The group includes major food exporters from both developed and developing countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Uruguay. The Cairns Group was a strong coalition in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
Codex Alimentarius Commission The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and The World Health Organization (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Common Agriculture Policy of the European Union (CAP) The CAP defines the European Union’s agriculture policy and is comprised of a set of rules and mechanisms, which regulate the production, trade and processing of agricultural products in the EU, with attention being focused increasingly on rural development. Among the European Union's policies, the CAP is regarded as one of the most important policy areas.
Decoupled income support Decoupled income support programs refer to payments to farmers which are not linked to current production decisions. In this manner, when payments are decoupled, they are directed to support farmers’ income so farmers make production decisions based on expected market returns.
Deficiency payments to support agricultural production Policies to complement a price support system where the government guarantees that producers would receive a fixed target price each year. In such a system, market prices are allowed to be determined by supply and demand. The difference between market prices and target prices is made up by a government payment directly to producers.
Domestic support measures for agricultural production Subsidies granted for the domestic production of agricultural goods. These subsidies are granted for the benefit of products regardless of whether those products are exported or not.
Export credits on agricultural products Governments provide official export credits through Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) in support of national exporters competing for overseas sales. ECAs provide credits to foreign buyers either directly or via private financial institutions benefiting from their insurance or guarantee cover. ECAs can be government institutions or private companies operating on behalf of the government. This system refers, therefore, to selling exports on credit rather than for cash payment. Many countries promote exports by providing either subsidized export credit or guarantees on more favorable terms than can be obtained commercially.
Export taxes This refers to taxes that are imposed on export products. They can be collected directly from exporters or indirectly through a government marketing board that pays producers a price lower than the world price. In this manner, the export tax forces the price in the exporting country below the world price by the amount of the tax.
Export subsidies on agricultural products Export subsidies are special incentives provided by governments on products destined for foreign markets to encourage increased foreign sales. Accordingly, export subsidies refer to subsidies which are contingent on export performance. They may take the form of, for example, cash payments, disposal of government stocks at below-market prices, subsidies financed by producers or processors as a result of government actions such as assessments, marketing subsidies, transportation and freight subsidies, and subsidies for commodities contingent on their incorporation in exported products.
Food aid Food aid refers to shipments of food commodities from donor to recipient countries on a total-grant basis or on highly concessional terms.
Genetically modified agricultural products The modification of the genetic characteristics of a microorganism, plant or animal by inserting a modified gene or a gene from another variety or species. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be microorganisms designed for use as biopesticides or seeds that have been altered genetically to give a plant better disease resistance or growth.
Green box of domestic support measures (WTO Agreement on Agriculture) Green box domestic support measures refer to measures that are considered to have minimum or no effect on trade. They include support measures such as research, extension, food security stocks, disaster payments, and structural adjustment programs. Green box measures are not subject to reduction commitments under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.
Price bands This is a policy instrument that introduces a duty to protect or buffer the domestic market from lower international prices. It consists of setting upper and lower levels of prices of imported commodities (the band) to decide on the application of a compensatory mechanism (e.g. tariff duties) in cases when the international price of a given agriculture product falls below the lower price band level.
Risk assessment Risk assessment refers to procedures to evaluate the likelihood of entry, establishment or spread of a pest or disease within the territory of an importing country according to the sanitary or phytosanitary measures which might be applied, and of the associated potential biological and economic consequences; the evaluation of the potential for adverse effects on human or animal health arising from the presence of additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food, beverages or feedstuffs.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Any measure applied: (i) to protect animal or plant life or health within the territory of a country from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms; (ii) to protect human or animal life or health within the territory of a country from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs; (iii) to protect human life or health within the territory of a country from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; or (iv) to prevent or limit other damage within the territory of a country from the entry, establishment or spread of pests. Sanitary or phytosanitary measures include all relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures including, inter alia, end product criteria; processes and production methods; testing, inspection, certification and approval procedures; quarantine treatments including relevant requirements associated with the transport of animals or plants, or with the materials necessary for their survival during transport; provisions on relevant statistical methods, sampling procedures and methods of risk assessment; and packaging and labeling requirements directly related to food safety.
Special agricultural safeguard regime Provisions within the Uruguay Round (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture designed to protect products which were subject to tariffication from surges in imports or large price declines.
State trading enterprises on agricultural products Governmental and non-governmental enterprises officially granted the function of importing and/or exporting agricultural products.
WTO Agreement on Agriculture The Agreement on Agriculture is one of the 29 individual legal texts included in the Final Act under an umbrella agreement establishing the WTO. It was negotiated in the 1986–94 Uruguay Round and is a significant first step towards fairer competition and a less distorted sector. It includes specific commitments by WTO member governments to improve market access and reduce trade-distorting subsidies in agriculture. These commitments have an implementation period over a six year period (10 years for developing countries) that began in 1995.
WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (WTO/SPS Agreement) The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the “SPS Agreement”) entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organization on 1 January 1995. It concerns the application of food safety and animal and plant health regulations.