AbstractA long period of international discussion and negotiation about new global trading arrangements ended in 1979. Despite changed economic and institutional circumstances, and growing deficiencies in the. existing arrangements for agricultural trade, these negotiations have done little to improve the efficiency with which the world's agricultural resources are used. Rather, they have tended to institutionalise the status quo. This is likely further to disadvantage efficient producers and to lead to a growing bilateralism in trading relationships, with consequent increased politicisation and potential for conflicts and instability.