TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept09/22)
29 September 2009
Third World Network

"A little progress" after two-day meeting, says NAMA Chair
Published in SUNS #6780 dated 28 September 2009

Geneva, 25 Sep (Kanaga Raja) -- A two-day meeting of the Negotiating Group on Market Access for Non-agricultural Products (NAMA) that focused on technical work on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and the sectoral initiative achieved "a little progress", the Chair of the negotiations said Thursday.

Chairman Ambassador Luzius Wasescha of Switzerland provided this assessment at a press briefing following the conclusion of the two-day informal meeting.

The Chair also highlighted the active participation in particular of the US, the EC, Japan, Canada, India and Brazil at the meeting.

According to trade officials, at the informal meeting, the proponents and opponents of some of the proposals dealing with NTBs (page 22 of Annex 5 of the Chair's December text) were involved in a question-and-answer session to clarify some aspects of the documents.

In respect of NTBs related to trade in electronic goods, the Chair considered as "contradictory" two proposals - one by the US and the other by the EC. He said that a middle ground has to be found.

According to trade officials, the Chair encouraged proponents to seek convergence on different texts and, in the next revision, to aim as much as possible at a legal form of text.

India and Brazil submitted two new proposals for a horizontal mechanism for procedures to deal with NTBs.

On the sectoral initiative, members organized several short meetings on forestry products; fish and fish products; electronics and electrical products; chemicals; healthcare; bicycles, sports equipment and hand tools; industrial machinery; and textiles, clothing and footwear.

According to trade officials, there was no detailed information provided to the Negotiating Group on any specific progress registered at these meetings.

Brazil said that its assessment regarding its possible participation in the sectoral initiative is that it would not provide benefits to the country. It cited an independent report that said that participation by Brazil in three sectors - chemicals, electronics and environmental goods - would actually generate big trade deficits.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Wasescha said that both he and senior officials will be more involved in the coming weeks. (A new NAMA week of discussions is scheduled for the first week of November).

Speaking to journalists after the informal meeting, the Chair said that he sensed a timid start to enter into a more legally-based draft text (on NTBs). He said that he encouraged members to prepare to come with legally-drafted texts for the coming sessions.

On the sectoral initiative, the Chair said that a factual discussion and technical work is now taking place among delegations.

He said that the two-day meeting achieved "a little progress" and that the atmospherics was positive. +