TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept05/3)

16 September 2005

Lamy says two-thirds of Doha round should be completed by Hong Kong

At a meeting of the WTO's Trade Negotiations Committee on 14 September, the WTO's new DG, Pascal Lamy, called on members to reach by the Hong Kong Ministerial a result that would take them two-thirds of the way to concluding the Doha round in 2006.

Below is a report of Lamy's press conference and of the TNC meeting.

It was published in the South North Development Monitor on 15 September.

With best wishes
Martin Khor


Lamy says two-thirds of Doha round should be completed by Hong Kong

By Kanaga Raja (South North Development Monitor), 14 September 2005

The new Director-General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, called on members to reach by the Hong Kong Ministerial a result that would take them two-thirds of the way to concluding the Doha round in 2006.

At his first media briefing in Geneva Wednesday since taking office on 1 September, Lamy said that he had outlined this objective to members at a meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) earlier in the day.

To achieve the objective, Lamy added, members need to work extremely hard and address urgently a number of specific issues. Hong Kong is not the final conclusion of the round but that the objective is to reach the two-thirds stage.

He indicated that a draft of the Ministerial text would be produced at mid-November, following a "first evaluation" at mid-October.

Lamy, who is also the Chair of the TNC, said that at the TNC meeting, he had presented a diagnosis of the situation and a broad idea of the timing ahead for the preparation for the Ministerial.

The TNC would serve as the focal point for the preparation for the Hong Kong Ministerial in the next three months, he added.

Among the specific issues that need to be addressed urgently is agriculture, where the date for the elimination of export subsidies and the treatment of other forms of export support need to be taken up.

Lamy also highlighted the need for numbers for AMS (Aggregate Measure of Support) reduction commitments, which in his view would also imply a clear definition of the Blue Box.

On market access in agriculture, Lamy said that the formula for tariff reduction, the bands within the formula and a precise definition of special products and specific products need to be addressed.

Lamy indicated that for the agriculture negotiations to make progress, the United States needs to have some parameters on domestic support, while the European Union must have some parameters on market access.

All elements of the cotton dossier also need to be looked at, he said.

On non-agricultural market access (NAMA), Lamy said attention is needed on the formula for tariff reduction, as well as on unbound tariffs and flexibilities.

On the development issue, Lamy said that a solid aid-for-trade package was needed, which would allow developing countries after the conclusion of the round to transform results into concrete gains.

He highlighted three basic channels to foster the development dimension in this round. The first lies in every domain of the negotiations where specificities, flexibilities and Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) will be factored in. The development dimension will only appear after putting together what will result from each of these vertical clusters.

Second is the more traditional development-linked issues such as SDT and implementation issues on which the Chair of the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development is working on, Lamy said, adding that the third channel is aid-for-trade, capacity building, and trade-related technical assistance aspects.

"Let's focus on a few issues that sequentially will get this train moving," he said.

With respect to the process towards Hong Kong, Lamy underlined that the TNC remains the pivot of the negotiations but that detailed work will have to be done in the various negotiating groups. "Things will have to come bottom-up from the negotiating groups."

Lamy stressed that there were only three months left to Kong Kong. He said that sometime by mid-October, members will have to make a 'first evaluation' on the progress made, to better define their ambition for Hong Kong.

By mid-November, he added, when "different negotiating groups will have produced specific and substantial results, we then will put all these together for consideration of the Ministerial, bearing in mind that many member states need time to study and discuss, and have their own capital-based process before they go to the Ministerial."

Lamy said that he would adopt a fully-hands-on approach to try and foster the negotiations and cooperation among the Chair of the General Council and the chairs of the various negotiating groups. He would be spending most of his time in Geneva.

"We have to keep in mind the level of ambition. There is no way that Hong Kong can result in a sort of lowest common denominator deal. If that is the case, we will not reach the two-thirds goal-post which we now have."

Earlier, at the TNC meeting, Lamy made similar points to what he said at the press briefing. The chairs of various negotiating groups presented brief reports.

According to trade diplomats, the chair of the Special Session of the CTD, Ambassador Faizal Ismail of South Africa, said that members are still working on the 5 outstanding LDC proposals.

The Chair of the Special Session on TRIPS reported no substantive movement to date on the issue of geographical indications.

The Chair of the services negotiations, Ambassador Alejandro Jara of Chile said there is "widespread dissatisfaction" with the numbers and quality of offers made and Members would have to find new ways to advance the negotiations.

He also informed members of the informal open-ended special session he held Tuesday on "complementary approaches" where six proposals were tabled proposing changes to the way negotiations are currently being conducted.

A few members also spoke. It was notable, according to some trade diplomats, that no developed country member spoke during the TNC.

Philippines speaking on behalf of the G33 said that a "bottom up approach in the negotiations" is important. It was referring to the trend of agriculture negotiations being dominated and monopolized by some key member countries. Philippines also underscored the importance of Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism to meet the objectives of food security, rural livelihoods and development, and they must therefore be fully addressed in the negotiations.

India highlighted the importance of the implementation issues and urged the new TNC chairman to give this issue its due attention. This was supported by Mauritius, speaking on behalf of the ACP Group. Mauritius added that other development issues such as special and differential treatment must be adequately addressed in the negotiations.

(Note: Report was with inputs from Goh Chien Yen.)