Finland has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since it was established in 1995 to develop and monitor the rules of international trade. The WTO functions as a forum for negotiations on trade liberalisation, settling trade disputes and monitoring national trade policies. WTO agreements are concluded as a comprehensive outcome of extensive negotiation rounds, of which the present one is called the Doha Round. Through the WTO Agreement on Agriculture member countries are committed to certain rules and disciplines related to trade which influence the way agricultural policies are constructed. In a continuous review process conducted by the Committee on Agriculture, members have the opportunity to monitor each other's policies to ensure compliance with the agreements. Relevant for the agricultural sector is also the SPS agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
WTO negotiations on further liberalisation of agricultural trade have been in progress since 2000. The main topics are the reduction of export subsidies and trade-distorting support and improving market access. These negotiations are conducted as part of the Doha round of trade negotiations. In Finland the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has the main responsibility for trade policy, including negotiations on global trade rules conducted through the WTO. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry closely follows these negotiations through regular participation in the meetings of the negotiating bodies in Geneva and by participating in the preparation of Finland’s official positions. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry also participates in the regular meetings of the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture.