International Agricultural Trade



International agricultural trade has been described as inexplicable, exasperating, and the most distorted segment of the global economy. Nevertheless, its importance grows as production surpasses domestic demand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) reports that the United States is the world’s largest agricultural exporter, with almost one quarter of farm cash receipts coming from export markets. International agricultural trade involves many different areas of international and domestic law, including international treaties and agreements, domestic trade laws, and general policy decisions. This overview focuses on these broad concepts in the large, intricate subject area of international agricultural trade. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

United States Statutes

States’ Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Statutes

Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1691-1738r

Uruguay Round Trade Agreements Act, 19 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3624

Agriculture-Related Provisions, 19 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3624

Foreign Market Development, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1761-1769

Surplus Disposal of Agricultural Commodities, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1854-1860

Agricultural Trade Suspension Adjustment Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 4001-4005

Agricultural Trade Act of 1978, 7 U.S.C. §§ 5601-5723

Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002 19 U.S.C. §§ 3801-3813

North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, 19 U.S.C. 3301-3473

Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. §§ 1202-1681b

United Nations Trade-Related Agreements

International Commercial Arbitration & Conciliation

Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards – the “New York”
Convention of 1958

International Sale of Goods (CISG)

United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) of 1980

Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods of 1974

Security Interests

The UNCITRAL Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade of 2001

International Payments

United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit of 1995

United Nations Convention on International Bills of Exchange and International Promissory Notes
of 1988

International Transport of Goods

United Nations Convention on the Liability of Operators of Transport Terminals in International Trade
of 1991

United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea – the “Hamburg Rules” of 1978
Electronic Commerce

United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts of 2005

WTO Agreements

Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, 1994

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947)

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994

Agreement on Agriculture

Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS)

Trade Agreements of International Regional Organizations

EU Trade-Related Agreements

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA)
Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration Between the USA and the EU, 30 April, 2007

AU Trade-Related Agreements

Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade-Related Agreements

CARICOM Agreements (Caribbean Community and Common Market)

The Dickenson Bay Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Trade Association (1966)
Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community Including the CARICOM
Single Market and Economy

Protocol V: Agricultural Policy

MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market)

Treaty Establishing a Common Market Between the Argentine Republic, the Federal Republic
of Brazil, the Republic of Paraguay and the Eastern Republic of Uruguay

Trade Agreements of International Regional Organizations with United States Participation

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)
The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)

FTAA Founding Documents:

Third Draft FTAA Agreement, Nov. 3, 2003
Negotiation Group on Agriculture
Hemispheric Trade and Tariff Data Base

Middle East Free Trade Area Initiative (MEFTA)
APEC 2007 Leaders’ Declaration
APEC 1994 Leaders’ Declaration
United States Free Trade Agreements (Office of U.S. Trade Representative)
United States Foreign Agricultural Service’s Trade Agreements
Listing of Other Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements

Autonomous International Instruments:

UNCITRAL Endorsed Instruments
Incoterms 2000
European Union Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)
GSP Regulation No 980/2005

Regulations (United States)

Export Sales Reporting Requirements, 7 C.F.R. §§ 20.1-20.12

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Parts 300-380

Commodity Credit Corporation Regulations to Develop Foreign Markets , 7 C.F.R. Parts 1484-1485

Foreign Agriculture Service Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Parts 1520-1599

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulations, 9 C.F.R. Parts 1-199

Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Regulations, 9 C.F.R. §§ 322.1-322.5

Food Safety and Inspection Service Import Regulations, 9 C.F.R §§ 327.1-327.26

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

United States Case Law

Case Law Index for International Trade

International Case Law

UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

Case Law (CLOUT)

Guangdong Agriculture Co. Ltd. etc. (case 41)

Jean Charbonneau v. Les Industries A.C. Davie Inc. et al. (case 66)

WTO Disputes

Index of WTO Agricultural Cases (Jan. 1995 – Jan. 2009)
WTO Dispute Cases Organized by Subject
WTO Chronological List of All Dispute Cases
General overview of active WTO Dispute Settlement Cases
Cases launched by EC
Complaints Against EC
EC as Third Party

NAFTA Dispute Resolutions

Index of NAFTA Agriculture Cases

Administrative Law Decisions

USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges

USDA Office of the Judicial Officer

USDA National Appeals Division

Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rulings

U.S. International Trade Commission Investigations

Center Research Publications

Aquaculture and the Lacey Act – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2010)

Nation-Specific Risk Tolerance in the WTO: US-Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC-Hormones Dispute (Peck, 2009)

International Legal Issues Concerning Animal Cloning and Nanotechnology — More of the Same or Are “The Times They Are A-Changin'”? (Roberts, 2008)

Private Standards in the Global Food Sector: Relationship to WTO Agreements – PowerPoint Presentation (Roberts, 2008)

Introduction to Food Law in the People’s Republic of China (Roberts, 2007)

A Comparison of International Animal Identification Programs (Pendergrass, 2007)

Summary of the WTO Interim Report in EC-Biotech (Peck, 2006)

From the Farm to the Factory: An Overview of the American and European Approaches to Regulation of the Beef Industry (Houston, 2006)

World Trade Organization and the Commodity Title of the Next Farm Bill: A Practioner’s View (O’Brien, 2006)

Congressional Research Service Reports (United States)

CRS Subject(s):

Trade – Agreements
Trade – Disputes
Trade – Miscellaneous
Trade – Sanctions

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on International Trade:

Alien Land Ownership (Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land)
Farm Policy and Legislative Analysis
International Trade

Reference Resources

Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS)

Import and Export
Animal Health Permits
International Animal Export Regulations

Customs and Border Protection

Agriculture Programs
Protecting Agriculture
Publications: Trade
Import Quotas
Informed Compliance Publications
Bringing Agricultural Products into the U.S.
Summary of Laws Enforced
Commodities Subject to Import Quotas

Economic Research Service

Topic: Trade & International Markets
Topic: Trade Policy

Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade (1995- )
U.S. Agricultural Trade Update (1995-2008)
Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States
International Agriculture and Trade Situation and Outlook Reports (1995- )
Eliminating Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: How Would Markets Be Affected? (2006)
Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade (2001)
Food Safety and International Trade Research Briefs

U.S. Free Trade Agreements

State Department

The USA National Report on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Drought, Desertification and Africa (2008)
Free Trade Agreements
International Claims and Investment Disputes (L/CID)
Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices

U.S. Trade Representative

Agriculture Sector

Congressional Resources

Reports on International Agricultural Trade (Government Accountability Office)

Other Federal Resources

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

National Organic Program: International Trade Partners (AMS)

International Activities Related to Pesticides (EPA)

U.S. Court of International Trade

Agriculture & Food Security (USAID)

U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)

Geographical Indications in U.S.-EU Trade Negotiations (CRS In Focus Summary)

The WTO Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case (CRS In Focus Summary)

New Era Dawns in U.S.-Mexico Sugar Trade (CRS In Focus Summary)

International Trade Data System

International Resources

United Nations

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Reports on the State of Agricultural Commodity Markets

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

Bibliography of Recent Writings Related to the Work of UNCITRAL
UNCITRAL On-line Resources
Publications & On-line Resources
Sales Publications
Working Groups Documents

UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD)

Trade and development aspects of insurance services and regulatory frameworks (UNCTAD/DITC/TNCD/2007/4), 01/12/07
Developing Countries in International Trade 2007: Trade and Development Index (UNCTAD/DITC/TAB/2007/2), 01/10/07
UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative BioTrade Principles and Criteria (UNCTAD/DITC/TED/2007/4), 01/09/07
Malawi and the Multilateral Trading System: The Impact of WTO Agreements, Negotiations and Implementation (UNCTAD/DITC/TNCD/2005/18), 01/11/06

Agri-Food Trade Policy (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

European Union

Activities of the European Union – Agriculture
Activities of the European Union – Summaries of Legislation – Agriculture
Agricultural Markets (European Commission)
Delegation of the European Union to the USA: Trade & Agriculture
Delegation of the European Union to the USA: Public Health & Consumer Protection
European Union Legal Materials: An Infrequent User’s Guide (Duncan Alford)

International Chamber of Commerce

International Chamber of Commerce: Commercial Law and Practice
International Chamber of Commerce: Trade and Investment
International Chamber of Commerce Dispute Resolution Services
International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Archives
“Sustainable Agriculture” Contributions by the Private Sector (2008)

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Directorate for Food, Ag & Fisheries

World Bank

Documents & Reports on Agricultural Trade
Agricultural Trade
Agriculture in the Doha Agenda (Messerlin, World Bank, 2003)

World Trade Organization

Negotiations, Implementation and Development: The Doha Agenda
Agriculture Negotiations
Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration
Agricultural Trade Statistics
Dispute Issues 

World Trade Organization Library

WTO Resources
WTO Documents Online (1995- )
GATT Digital Library (1947-1994, Stanford U. Library)
Trade-Related Ministries of WTO Members and Observers
Trade-Related Multilateral Governmental Organizations
Regional Trade Agreements
Databases on Trade Law
Databases on International Trade Law
Databases on Trade and Economics

Additional Resources

Basic Info and Online Sources for NAFTA and CAFTA Research (Avalos and Garmon)
International Trade Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council
International Trade Law (World Legal Information Institute)
International Trade Law (Legal Information Institute – Cornell)
WTO Trade and Labor Issues (Cornell U.)
International Economic Law (ASIL)
United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods Database (Pace U. School of Law)
Lex Mercatoria International Trade Law
Guide to International Trade Law Sources on the Internet (LLRX)
WTO/GATT Research (LLRX)’s Trade Law Library
White & Case Publications on International Trade
International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium
The German Marshall Fund of the United States
National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade
International Trade Regulation of Agricultural Products (


Glossary of Customs Terms (Automated System for Customs Data)
FAO – Trade in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Glossary and Acronyms
WTO Glossary
EU External Trade Glossary
ERS/USDA Data – Agricultural Trade Multipliers: Glossary
Glossary – Trade Resource Center
Glossary of Terms Relating to Agricultural Trade (Agritrade)
Glossary of Trade & Shipping Terms
Defra, UK – Animal Health and Welfare – International Trade – Glossary


The Center for International Environmental Law: Trade publications

Should the Green Box Be Modified? (International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council, 2007)

The Limits of American Generosity (Bhala, 2006)

U.S. Agricultural Export Credits after the WTO Cotton Ruling: The Law of Unintended Consequences (Benitah, 2005)

International Trade in Ag Products: A Research Guide (Peoples, OK City U., 2004)

International Agricultural Trade Disputes: Case Studies in North America (Schmitz et al., 2003)

Right to Food Principles Vis a Vis Rules Governing International Trade (Gray, 2003)

Food Aid and Commercial International Food Trade (Barrett, 2002)

Structural Change as a Source of Trade Disputes Under NAFTA (Loyns et al., Agricultural and Food Policy Systems Information Workshop, 2002)

The Appellate Body Rulings in the Shrimp/Turtle Case: A New Legal Baseline for the Trade and Environment Debate (Howse, 2002)

Europe’s Evolving Regulatory Strategy for GMOs – The Issue of Consistency with WTO Law: Of Kine and Brine (Howse & Mavroidis, 2000)

Competition Policy and International Agricultural Trade (MacLaren & Josling)