Perhaps the single most abject failure of the first seven rounds of the GATT was the inability to open up trade in agricultural goods. Throughout the past forty years and at a time when trade in industrial products was being progressively liberalised, trade in agricultural goods largely remained outside any agreed international rules or discipline. Governments were free to pursue whatever policies they wished. The result was that trade in agricultural goods was seriously impaired and distorted. In the light of this, the decision to give prominence to agriculture in the Uruguay Round represented a significant development. The background was a growing awareness of the cost of protectionist agricultural policies in the advanced industrialised countries and a recognition that agriculture could no longer be excluded altogether from normal GATT rules and disciplines. Governmental support for agriculture in the advanced industrialised countries was escalating and creating an increasing financial burden. At the same time, the international repercussions of such policies meant that they were becoming a source of growing friction between countries. Disputes involving agricultural trade policies threatened to spill over into other areas of trade and to undermine the liberalisation process in these sectors. Moreover, it had become clear that no further progress in liberalising world trade as a whole could be made without the inclusion of agriculture.