The discussion since the Uruguay Round has largely focused on two themes: the high level of non-quota tariffs (some countries have insisted on deeper reductions in higher tariffs) and the quotas themselves – their size, the way they have been managed and import tariffs under quotas. The discussion on tariffs is as much about quantitative tariffs within quotas as well as outside. Traditionally, tariff reductions resulting from trade negotiations were based on bilateral product-by-product negotiations or formulas that applied to a wide range of products or combinations of both. There is much discussion about how the reductions will be dealt with in the current negotiations. Some countries – such as Canada and the United States – are pushing for “sectoral liberalization.” In some sectors in previous negotiations, this sometimes meant zero-for-zero agreements. These include negotiating the total abolition of tariffs (and possibly other measures such as export subsidies or subsidized export credits) at least by key WTO members in certain sectors such as oilseeds and barley and malt. Some countries, such as Japan.B have said that they do not support this. The Euro-Asian East Asian Group accepts the mixed approach as long as most reductions follow the Uruguay Round approach, tariff quotas are not expanded and there are no caps on final tariffs. Japan proposes three categories without specifying the nature of the reduction in each category and without requiring flexibility for sensitive products, which are closely related to non-commercial concerns. The auctioning of quotas is a method that has been the subject of much discussion.
One view is that the money that governments bring to the auction is equivalent to an additional tax and could violate customs obligations (“debts”). Another thing is that auctioning simply makes the added value created by a quota (“quota rental”) more transparent and transfers it to the government and not to private companies. Supporters add that it meets the objectives of transparency and simplicity, while allowing all importing companies to participate. Textiles and agriculture have been one of the most contentious topics in the WTO, as was the case in the old GATT system. It has now made fundamental changes as part of a 10-year plan agreed during the Uruguay Round. The import quota system, which has dominated trade since the early 1960s, is now at the end of the day. The agreement indicated the percentage of products that, at each stage, had to be covered by the GATT rules.