Agriculture has been essentially excluded from previous agreements, as it has been granted special status in the areas of import quotas and export subsidies, with slight reserves. However, at the time of the Uruguay Round, many countries considered the agricultural exception so egregious that they refused to sign a new no-move agreement for agricultural products. These fourteen countries were known as the “Cairns Group” and consisted mainly of small and medium-sized agricultural exporters such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia and New Zealand. The WTO`s highest decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. It brings together all WTO members, all of whom are countries or customs unions. The ministerial conference can make decisions on all issues as part of a multilateral trade agreement. However, the dispute resolution system cannot be used to resolve trade disputes arising from political differences. When Qatar called for the creation of a body on the measures imposed by the United Arab Emirates, other GCC countries and the United States immediately rejected their request as a political issue and declared that national security issues were political and unsuitable for the WTO system.  The negotiations have been highly controversial.
Differences remain in several key areas, including agricultural subsidies, which were deemed critical in July 2006.  According to a statement from the European Union, “the 2008 ministerial meeting failed due to a disagreement between bulk agricultural exporters and countries with large numbers of subsistence farmers over the exact conditions of a “special protection measure” to protect farmers from increased imports.  The European Commission`s position is that “the successful conclusion of the Doha negotiations would confirm the central role of multilateral liberalization and decision-making. It would confirm the WTO as a powerful shield against protectionist regressions.  The impasse remains and, since August 2013[update], no agreement has been reached at several ministerial conferences and other meetings, despite intense negotiations. On 27 March 2013, the Chairman of the Agricultural Negotiations announced “a proposal to relax price support disciplines for public stocks in developing countries and food aid”. He added: “We are not yet close to an agreement – indeed, the substantive discussion on the proposal has only just begun.  The 2002 Doha Declaration confirmed that the TRIPS agreement should not prevent members from taking the necessary measures to protect public health. Despite this recognition, less developed countries have argued that flexible TRIPS provisions, such as mandatory licensing, are almost impossible to obtain. The least developed countries, in particular, have made their young domestic manufacturing and technological industries proof of the infallible policy.