TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (July09/15)
20 July 2009
Third World Network

G8 plus G5 commit to 2010 deadline to conclude Doha talks
Published in SUNS #6739 dated 13 July 2009

Geneva, 10 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- The leaders of the G8 developed countries together with the Group of Five (G5) developing countries and Egypt, in an agreed statement on 9 July, expressed their commitment to seek an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round in 2010.

In their declaration, the G8 plus G5 and Egypt, together with the leaders of Australia, Indonesia and Korea and in the presence of WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, said that they are committed "to seek an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round in 2010, consistent with its mandate, building on the progress already made, including with regard to modalities."

"We regard enhancing the transparency and understanding of the negotiating results to date as a necessary means to facilitate the conclusion of an agreement."

[This formulation in the G8+5 communique is said to be one to accommodate the Barack Obama administration views, mooted by the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in effect wanting to know the end outcome of what the major developing countries would schedule, before agreeing to the modalities.

[In informal talks with some delegations earlier this year, Canada reportedly formulated the idea that member countries should straightaway move to schedule their commitments in agriculture and NAMA without having to agree on modalities. This however was quickly shot down by major developing countries.

[Subsequently, WTO Director-General Mr Pascal Lamy reformulated this idea and suggested at the General Council in May for what he called for work on "two simultaneous tracks" - one on modalities in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA), and the other for commencing the scheduling exercise in both areas.

[This too was shot down by developing countries at the May General Council meeting. (See SUNS #6708.)

[Since then, various formulations are being attempted. Whether the accord on the language now agreed at the L'Aquila summit, is one behind which there is a real understanding among the participants as to how their Trade Ministers would proceed, or a formulation capable of different interpretations is not clear.]

They added that in order to fill in the remaining gaps in the negotiations as soon as possible, "we instruct our Ministers in charge of trade to explore immediately all possible avenues for direct engagement within the WTO and to meet prior to the Pittsburgh Summit [of the G20]."

The G8 plus G5 and Egypt declaration titled "Promoting the Global Agenda" came at the G8 summit taking place from 8-10 July in L'Aquila, Italy.

The G8 comprises Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The G5 includes Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

(In a separate declaration issued on 8 July, the G8 leaders committed "to reach a rapid, ambitious, balanced and comprehensive conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda on the basis of progress already made, including with regard to modalities.")

In the section of their declaration relating to trade issues titled "Supporting open markets and concluding the Doha Round", the G8 plus G5 and Egypt reaffirmed their commitment to maintain and promote open markets and reject all protectionist measures in trade and investment.

They stressed the importance of adhering to the standstill commitment renewed in London (the G20 summit) to refrain from measures that would introduce barriers to trade and investment and to rectify promptly any such measures.

They further reaffirmed their request that the WTO, together with other international bodies, within their respective mandates, monitor the situation and report publicly on the adherence to these commitments on a quarterly basis.

The leaders said that the economic and financial crisis has clearly reinforced the need for enhanced international and multilateral cooperation. "We have acted more forcefully and cooperated more fully than in any earlier economic crisis. We are fully committed to implementing rapidly the Washington and the London Summit decisions, including those to strengthen financial regulation and reform International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and to provide them with adequate resources."

Under the section relating to a global recovery agenda for balanced, inclusive and sustainable growth, the leaders said that they are committed to working together to ensure a green global recovery based on firm and lasting foundations for sustainable, balanced, innovative and inclusive growth in the medium term.

To this end, they said that they will foster a macro-environment that supports a robust and balanced resumption of domestic private spending to promote the revival of demand. "Such an environment will require rehabilitating banking sectors in some countries, and the resumption of lending on a sound basis."

"While continuing to support our economies with every necessary measure to overcome the crisis, we will also begin to prepare exit strategies from the extraordinary policy measures taken to respond to the crisis, to be adopted once the recovery is assured and to ensure monetary and fiscal sustainability in the medium term."

"We will cooperate in our efforts to support domestic demand and achieve a robust, balanced, inclusive and sustainable global recovery. We will foster and work together to ensure an appropriate adjustment of savings, and investments, according to respective national circumstances," they said.

The G8 plus G5 and Egypt also said that they will refrain from competitive devaluations of their currencies and promote a stable and well-functioning international monetary system.

Concerned by the high social costs of the crisis in terms of unemployment and poverty, the leaders said that they are committed to tackle the social dimension of the crisis, putting people's concerns first. "We are modernising, reinforcing and increasing the efficiency of social protection policies, including safety nets, health and education. Strengthened and sustainable social protection, supporting employment and enhancing skills, will also help to sustain and rebalance global demand."

"We are resolved to continue reforming financial system regulation and supervision to prevent boom and bust cycles and we will work to ensure propriety, integrity and transparency of international economic and financial activity. We support an international financial system which fosters global economic and financial stability," they further said.

The leaders added that they will promote higher growth potential through a range of policies in the areas of human capital, research, infrastructure, and promotion and protection of innovation, as well as put greater emphasis on the development of agricultural and small-scale industries to make economic recovery more inclusive and more resilient.

"We will encourage and facilitate the development, dissemination and mutually agreed transfer of clean, low-carbon technologies, reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency from production to consumption, thereby improving energy security and access."

In this context, they reconfirmed their political will for reaching a comprehensive, fair, effective, agreed outcome, following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

"We will continue to reform the IFI's mandates, scope and governance, to enhance their relevance, effectiveness, and legitimacy and improve accountability and credibility and to give emerging and developing economies, including the poorest, greater voice and representation."

Expressing alarm over the serious implications of the global crisis for growth and for poverty eradication in developing countries, the G8 plus G5 and Egypt reaffirmed their shared commitment to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through economic growth and support to peace and security, especially in Africa.

"We underscore that climate change severely affects developing countries and is becoming a major threat to their ability to achieve internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs." +