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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May06/06)

5 May 2006
 

Don't make bacon out of us, say developing countries at WTO's Trade Negotiations Committee

Several developing countries and their groupings presented their assessments of the state of the Doha negotiations at the WTO's Trade Negotiations Committee on 1 May.

Some of the statements showed the growing concern of the groupings that their development concerns were being sidelined.

South Africa's deputy trade minister gave a striking analogy when he asked the developed countries not to demand the developing countries to sacrifice themselves as bacon, when in return they were only being offered "chicken feed" by the rich countries.

India's Ambassador said the focus of teh talks had shifted to opening the markets of developing countries, which he indicated will lead to a negative outcome.

The G33 warned that some members were trying to undermine the use of special products and special safeguard mechanism which had been earlier agreed to.

Below is a report of the TNC meeting, which was published in the SUNS on 2 May.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN

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Don't make bacon out of us, say developing countries at TNC meeting

By Martin Khor, Geneva, 1 May 2006


Several developing countries and their groupings presented their assessments of the state of the Doha negotiations as the WTO's Trade Negotiations Committee met on Monday 1 May.

The developing countries reiterated that their various concerns must be given prominence in the negotiations if there is to be a successful outcome.

South Africa's deputy trade minister who was present at the meeting made the most striking statement of the morning, when he asked the developed countries not to demand the developing countries to sacrifice themselves as bacon, when in return they were only being offered "chicken feed" by the rich countries.

Diplomats said that there was nothing really new in the statements made by various members at the TNC meeting.

"We have been waiting to see if the major players, namely the US and the EU are going to signal any new offers that improve their position, but this was not forthcoming," said the Ambassador of a developing country outside the meeting hall.

The "NAMA Eleven", representing several developing countries in the NAMA negotiations, made a statement that indicated its frustration over the imbalances between demands made by developed countries on developing countries in NAMA, and what the developed countries themselves were prepared to offer in both agriculture and NAMA.

Speaking on behalf of the NAMA 11, the deputy Trade Minister of South Africa, Rob Davies, said: "There is an old adage often referred to in negotiations in our country: both the chicken and pig need to make a sacrifice to produce a bacon and egg breakfast.

"But their sacrifices are of a different order and magnitude. A deal with only be possible in this Round if countries in our group are not asked to make a pig's sacrifice to gain chicken feed."

The NAMA 11 statement remarked that some of the proposals on NAMA were "ultra ambitious" in relation to formulae and coefficients for developing countries. On the other extreme the existing proposals from major developed players in agriculture are not a basis to advance the NAMA negotiations.

Speaking on the agriculture negotiations, India's Ambassador Ujal Singh Bhatia commented: "While on one hand we are yet to see meaningful progress on effective cuts in agricultural subsidies and enhanced market access in developed countries, on the other hand the focus seems to have shifted to opening the markets of developing countries.

"If this is going to be the tenor of discussions in the next few weeks, it will not require an astrologer to predict the outcome."

Speaking on the same lines was the Group of 33, represented by Indonesia. "We are seriously concerned with positions taken by our negotiating partners, some of who are attempting to undermine the agreement reached under the July Framework and by our Ministers in Hong Kong, on the issues of special products (SP) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM)" said the G33 in its statement to the TNC.

"In this regard we would like to once again emphasise that it would be difficult for the G33 to join a consensus on modalities in agriculture which does not provide adequate comfort on SP and SSM."

The exasperation and warning evident in the statements of India and the G33 reflect what to them was an unsatisfactory week of negotiations on agriculture. Many non-G33 members had opposed several key aspects of the Group's proposals on the coverage and application of the SP and SSM mechanisms, and instead suggested extremely restrictive conditions under which they can be used (See separate SUNS article).

A diplomat from a leading G33 member remarked, outside the meeting, that it had been the most "difficult" week of negotiations he had been involved in, indicating that there would be great difficulty ahead in defending the positions of those developing countries that have defensive interests in agriculture.

The ACP group, represented by Mauritius, reiterated that to be acceptable, modalities should include all issues of interest to ACP countries, and thus all issues in their totality should be addressed and none relegated.

"Indeed any attempt to establish less than full modalities, in which the concerns of the ACP could be excluded, will not be conducive to a productive and acceptable outcome."

The statement said the ACP is to some extent comforted by assurances by the chair of the agriculture negotiations that we have to secure full modalities and not "partial modalities".

"However, we remain concerned by the lack of parallel progress in the discussions on preferences," said the ACP. Its statement said this issue can no longer be relegated in the negotiations.

The G20, represented by Brazil, said it was not discouraged by the missed deadlines but was determined to help achieve full modalities "well before the summer." The G20 also reiterated its demands and positions on domestic support and market access aspects in the agriculture negotiations.

 


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