TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec05/13)
14 December 2005
Hong Kong 13 December (Martin Khor and Hira Jhamtani) -- The Group of 20 developing countries held a Ministerial meeting Tuesday morning and issued a G20 Ministerial Declaration reaffirming its position that agriculture is the central issue of the Doha Round .
“As agriculture is the engine
of the negotiations, the G20 expects that Ministers in
In reasserting the central
place of agriculture in the
The G20 held a press conference,
attended by the Trade Ministers of Brazil,
The Ministers added that the
G20 had presented balanced and middle ground positions in all areas of
the negotiations, and these proposals remain on the table as an appropriate
basis for completing the Round. “The G20 is prepared to negotiate agriculture
At the G20 press conference,
Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said that special products (SP) and
special safeguard mechanism (SSM) are integral parts of the agricultural
package. They lie in the livelihood needs and rights of developing countries
and cannot be negotiated in exchange for anything, and the only defensive
mechanism that developing countries have is tariffs. He added that export
subsidies were the most trade distortive measure, “yet we have difficulty
in defining the end date. Let the
At a separate meeting with
NGOs, Kamal Nath said it is not the completion of the Round but its content
which is important. The content to be deliberated in the
To correct world trade imbalance,
he said, export subsidies must be eliminated. On domestic support, it
must be clear how “much less will developed countries spend on subsidies
instead of shifting around the boxes”. On NAMA, Kamal Nath said the issue
is not just market access but a reform of the dumping laws. “ I do not
care what formula is used, whether Swiss or German, I want to see how
much the tariffs will be cut. If the EU cuts its tariff by only 24% while
He stressed that there is enough
already of statements about good intentions. “But let us now see specifics”.
Developed countries cannot keep pocketing whatever they can get, but reducing
to statements whatever they have to give. In NAMA, for instance, the negotiation
content must take into account the need to protect small, infant and large-employment
industries in developing countries. He added that the days are over when
countries are held to ransom in negotiations. And this is thanks to the
input and statements of civil society groups. Indeed in the beginning
of his briefing he said there is a great difference between the
Secondly, there must be disciplines,
especially rules on the blue box domestic subsidies, especially since
On market access, Hugueney said the EU proposal is widely considered as insufficient. The cuts for developed countries are very small. In addition, the EU wants 8% of tariff lines designated as sensitive products, or 300 of its 2200 tariff lines. This is too excessive and unacceptable, as even if only 2% of tariff lines is accepted it would already involve a very part of the EU’s agricultural production.
On export competition, Hugueney said that the G20 wants a standstill in export subsidies (which have tremendous dumping effects) in the meanwhile, and an early end-date (2010). This should apply to all forms of export support, including food aid and export credits.
He also stressed the importance of S&D for the G20. Developing countries that don’t have AMS domestic support should be exempted from an overall cut and de minimis cut. There should be longer implementation periods for all three pillars for developing countries; proportionality in commitments; and the role of SP and SSM is very important.
At the meeting, French economist Jacques Berthelot argued that domestic subsidies that are given to inputs for exports (such as feed for animals) should also be considered export subsidies. A large part of the EU subsidy to cereals goes to animal feed. The EU’s exports for example of chicken and pork, contain high export subsidies in the form of domestic subsidy of inputs into these exports.
Hugueney said the G20 was aware of this linkage and had raised the issue of disciplines on this. However there was “total resistance” from the developed countries when this issue was raised.