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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct05/13)

18 October 2005
 

G33 criticises agriculture process and US proposal

The Group of 33, which represents the defensive interests of small farmers in developing countries, has criticised the US proposal on market access
in agriculture as not taking the principle of special and differential treatment (SDT) seriously.

It has also expressed concern and unhappiness about the negotiating process in agriculture, especially for its not being invited to some of the key negotiating meetings.

It also announced that it has formally submitted a proposal on an illustrative list of indicators for Special Products (SPs), and will also be elaborating on its proposal for a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing countries.

The G33 is spearheading the concepts of SPs and SSM and the right of developing countries to use them as part of the outcome of the agriculture
negotiations.

The G33 is an alliance of 44 developing countries which have joined efforts to guarantee that food security, livelihood security and rural development concerns of the developing countries are put at the centre of the WTO negotiations on agriculture.

Below is a report of the G33 statements.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN

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G33 criticises agriculture process and US proposal

By Martin Khor (TWN), Geneva 13 October 2005

The Group of 33, which represents the defensive interests of small farmers in developing countries, has criticised the US proposal on market access in agriculture as not taking the principle of special and differential treatment (SDT) seriously.

It has also expressed concern and unhappiness about the negotiating process in agriculture, especially for its not being invited to some of the key negotiating meetings.

It also announced that it has formally submitted a proposal on an illustrative list of indicators for Special Products (SPs), and will also be elaborating on its proposal for a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing countries.

The G33 is spearheading the concepts of SPs and SSM and the right of developing countries to use them as part of the outcome of the agriculture negotiations.

The G33 is an alliance of 44 developing countries which have joined efforts to guarantee that food security, livelihood security and rural development concerns of the developing countries are put at the centre of the WTO negotiations on agriculture.

It comprises Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Korea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, The Philippines, Peru, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Indonesia, which coordinates the G33, commented on the recent days' negotiations in a statement made by its Ambassador, Gusmardi Bustami, at the Trade Negotiations Committee on Thursday.

Indonesia said that the July framework clearly states that the tiered formula for tariff reduction must take into account the different tariff structures of developed and developing countries. The G33 strongly believed that this mandate requires that there be different set of thresholds and level of cut for developed and developing countries.

"Therefore, the G-33 does not agree with any suggestion to trivialise the special and differential treatment for developing countries by suggesting common thresholds for both developed and developing countries and by advocating 'slightly lesser' commitments by developing countries," said Indonesia. "This undermines the concerns expressed by many developing countries."

It was referring to the proposal made by the United States at the mini-Ministerial meeting in Zurich on Monday, in which both developed and developing countries would cut tariffs according to the same tariff bands of 0-20%, 20-40%, 40-60% and above 60%.

The US had said that developed countries would cut tariffs by 55-65% for the lowest tier, and 65-75%, 75-85% and 85-90% respectively for the other tiers. It also said developing countries would have "slightly lesser reductions".

Said the G33: "Given the inequities in the agricultural production system between the developed and developing countries, if we are to give primacy to development dimensions in this round, the special and differential treatment for developing countries should be meaningful and not a mere lip service."

On its illustrative list of indicators, Indonesia said that this provides guidelines for developing countries on how to approach the designation of products as special products in a transparent manner based on the already agreed criteria.

It added that the G33 has also accelerated its work to further elaborate the elements for the SSM, so that it is simple and effective to address both price depression and import surges based on price and volume triggers. "This mechanism must be integral to any package being developed in the market access pillar and remains fundamental to address the food security, livelihood security and rural development needs of developing countries."

Indonesia said the G33 agreed with the chair of the TNC that "in working towards our deadline, process is just as important as the substantive issue."

"At this stage of the negotiation it is vital that all members have confidence in the process. We further agree on the need to continue to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in our process."

In a press statement on 11 October, the G33 elaborated its concerns on the recent negotiations.

"The G-33 has deep concerns and disappointment with the recent developments on agriculture negotiations, in terms of process and substance," said the statement.

"On the process, it is unfortunate that the G-33 countries are not invited in a representative proportion to uphold their interests in the negotiations. The G-33 reiterates once again that there is no better alternative than a bottom-up approach. The format of meetings may take place at various settings, but transparency and inclusiveness of negotiating groupings and all members must and should be maintained.

"Consultation and reporting process on the substantive discussions taking place in various formats, must be improved and done on a regular basis to involve the whole membership."

On the tariff reduction formula, the G33 said it is fully committed to ensuring that the mandate on SDT (in the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the July Package) is operationalized through concrete and meaningful provisions in favour of developing countries. SDT must thus be reflected in every element defining the structure and the level of ambition in market access and all other pillars of the agriculture negotiations.

"The July Framework clearly states that the tiered formula for tariff reductions must take into account the different tariff structures of developed and developing countries," said the statement.

"The G-33 is ever determined that this mandate requires that there be different set of thresholds for developed and developing countries. Any suggestion of a common set of thresholds for developed and developing countries is simply unacceptable. The condition of countries with tariff ceilings bindings and countries with low bindings must be taken into account through specific modalities affecting the structure of the tiered formula."

The G33 reminded that the July Framework states that proportionality will be achieved by requiring lesser tariff reduction commitments or tariff rate quota expansion from developing countries.

"Proportionality must be defined in terms of the overall outcome of tariff reductions guaranteeing that developing countries' reduction commitments are lower than those required from developed countries," said the G33. "The overall average reduction of tariffs by developing countries cannot exceed two-thirds of the average reduction undertaken by developed countries."

"The G-33 is extremely concerned by the act of insistence of some major subsidizers of trying to condition changes in their domestic policies on disproportionate concessions by developing countries. This would inevitably lead to an unbalanced result."

 


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