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TWN info Service on WTO Issues
Geneva 30 October 2001


NIGERIA ATTACKS ONE-SIDED DRAFT DECLARATION FOR DISREGARDING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES' VIEWS; ASKS FOR TEXT TO REFLECT ALTERNATIVE VIEWS

by Martin Khor (Third World Network)


In a highly critical letter to the WTO General Council Chairman and the Director General, the Nigerian delegation has requested that alternative views from developing countries be indicated in a revised draft of the Ministerial Declaration "so as to give the Ministers the other side of the story to enable them reach an informed decision."

The letter from Ambassador M.I. Nwagwu (Nigeria's deputy permanent representative to the WTO) can be considered a first voicing of the deep dissatisfaction, even outrage, felt by many developing countries' representatives over the second draft Declaration issued by the Chairman on 27 October.

The Chairman is expected to try to send this draft unchanged to the Doha Ministerial. But many developing countries believe the text to be highly unbalanced, representing the interests of developed countries at their expense.  They are expected to challenge the draft, and to ask the Chairman to include their views (even if these be in the form of options or alternatives) so that there is a fairer chance of their views being considered when Ministers meet on 9 November.

The battle over the draft will take place on Wednesday 31 October at a formal meeting of the General Council.

The Nigerian letter is a preview of the expression of the deep unhappiness and anger of the developing countries.  It criticises the text of being one-sided, accomodating totally the developed countries and disregarding the developing countries, empty of content on issues of interest to developing countries.  It cites the text's pushing vigorously the "new issues" in favour of major delegations, although there is no consensus; and the launching of new negotiations on industrial tariffs despite many countries' proposal to initiate a study process instead.

Stating the text "shows not much regard for our countries", it says there has been a "non-inclusive attitude by sidetracking the views of developing and least developed countries" and that "there is no level playground in the WTO if only one side is heard."  Ambassador Nwagwu stated that Nigeria rejected the text on the new issues, TRIPS, trade and environment, special and differential treatment and the establishment of a Trade Negotiation Committee.

He requested the Chairman to "reflect in his revised text the alternative views so as to give Ministers the other side of the story."  He also quoted a similar request made by Hong Kong, China (the country which the Chairman represents) before the Seattle Ministerial in 1999.  Stated Nigeria: "Time changes everything and the distance between Seattle and Doha appears long. But the problems remain the same."

The letter then listed demands that Nigeria insists should be reflected in the Declaration, including continuing the study on new issues (instead of negotiations),  initiating a study (not negotiations) on industrial tariffs, resolving all implementation issues at Doha, and no establishment of a trade negotiating committee.  Nigeria also requested that its letter be forwarded to Ministers side by side with the draft declaration so that "Ministers see the interests of my delegation which you could not reflect in your Declaration."

The letter is significant as it appears to reflect the views that many other delegations are holding.  They are also expected to voice similar sentiments at the General Council meeting of 31 October.

Below is the full text of the letter.

---------------------------------



29th October, 2001

H.E. Mr Stuart Harbinson,
Chairman,
General Council,
WTO,
Geneva.

H.E. Mr. Mike More,
Director-General,
WTO,
Geneva.


Sir,


NIGERIA'S COMMENTS/VIEWS ON THE REVISED DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION JOB
NO. (01)/140/REV.1


The Nigerian Delegation to the WTO wishes to forward the attached comments/views on the Revised Ministerial Declaration for Doha Job No. (01)/140/Rev.1 dated 27th October 27, 2001. It will be appreciated if the attached document is forwarded to Ministers, side by side your Draft Declaration, in the form of Annex, or in an explanatory letter.   Our objective is to allow Ministers to see the interests of my Delegation which you could not reflect in your Declaration Job No. (01)/140/Rev.1.   Kindly also circulate the document to members of the General Council for their information.

2. With kind regards.


(signed)

M.I. Nwagwu
Deputy Permanent Representative (WTO)
Nigeria



FOURTH SESSION OF WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE DOHA, QATAR, 9-13 NOVEMBER, 2001

NIGERIA'S REACTION TO THE REVISED MINISTERIAL TEXT JOB NO. (01/140/REV.1


Nigeria finds the revised text released by the Chairman of the General Council unsatisfactory because it is one-sided. The text generally accommodates in total the interests of developed countries while disregarding the concerns of the developing and least developed countries. It is empty of contents on the issues of interest to developing countries including issues of Implementation, Special and Differential Treatment (S&D), LDC Issues, Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and TRIPS and Public Health.

2. For instance, while not giving much in Implementation that has been on the table since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round Agreements, it pushed vigorously the New Issues in favour of major delegations. The Singapore Ministerial Decision is that negotiations on the New Issues will take effect if a consensus is agreed. We have not reached a consensus on them. The Draft went further to include new views on TRIPS as if it is an agreed text. In the area of Industrial Tariffs Nigeria had co-sponsored a proposal by Kenya and several other countries that a study should be initiated on the implications of previous negotiations in the area of Industrial Tariff on the economies of developing countries before engaging in new negotiations in this area. Here again the Draft has failed to reflect the concerns of a large section of the membership. The text shows not much regard for our countries. We request the Chairman to indicate alternative views from the developing and least developed countries in order to send a balanced to Ministers.

3. It is rather unfortunate that the Chairman has decided to adopt this non-inclusive attitude by side-tracking the views of the developing and least-developed countries. Nigeria considers it a serious omission that the Draft has not projected the crucial differences in our views. This portends that there is no level playground in the WTO if one side only is heard in arguments and on issues that affect all our countries. It will be recalled that my delegation requested the Chairman to indicate the different views of delegations in square brackets. Apparently due to pressure of work this has not be done (not that the Chairman is insensitive to the request or feeling of the Nigerian delegation). This revised text does not clearly identify our interests, it only gave negotiating options, and we reject those options on the New Issues, TRIPS, Trade and Environment, S&D Treatment and the establishment of a Trade Negotiation Committee. The Chairman is therefore invited to please reflect in his revised text the alternative views so as to give the Ministers the other side of the story to enable them to reach an informed decision.

4. Our request is that our proposals be reflected in the Draft Declaration alongside other proposals. Our request is consistent and supportive of a similar request made by the Delegation of Hong Kong China before the Seattle Ministerial in 1999. At one of the Preparatory Special General Council meetings held on 23 November 1999 (Doc.No.WT/GC/M/51), the following was recorded at paragraph 11:

"The representative of Hong Kong China said that the positions of delegations which had made proposals before 19 October and which were not reflected in the text circulated on that date should not be prejudiced in any way by the transmission of that text to the Ministerial Conference.  Furthermore, his delegation requested that, when circulating texts to the Ministerial Conference, the Secretariat should clearly state the source of the document, whether it concerned one or several delegations and whether it was being issued under the Chair's authority."

Time changes everything and the distance between Seattle and Doha appears long. But the problems remain the same.

5. Our demands are very modest but we insist on them being reflected in the Ministerial Declaration. These are that:

* All implementation issues should be addressed and resolved at Doha, in accordance with an earlier decision of the General Council.

* On the New Issues, the study process should continue pending such a time that there will be consensus on then as mandated by the Singapore Declaration. This will enable delegations to better understand them and ensure that outstanding issues are clarified. Consequently, we reject the opt in/opt out proposal in paragraph 20 and 21 in whatever form it is presented.

* The members should initiate a study of the implications of previous negotiations in the area of industrial tariff on the economies of developing countries to guide them on how to proceed in the future.

* In the understanding of the developing countries, nothing in the TRIPS Agreement shall restrict Members from taking necessary action to protect public health in their countries.

* Environmental issues do not belong in the WTO and the Organisation should not be over-burdened with issues that rightly belong to other international Organisations.

* Special and Differential Treatment for developing and least developed countries should be made mandatory and binding.

* If a new round of negotiations is agreed in Doha, it should be conducted within the existing negotiating bodies under the direct supervision of the General Council, hence there is no need for the establishment of a Trade Negotiating Committee.


Nigeria Trade Office,
Geneva
29 October, 2001

 


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