TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct09/04)
9 October 2009
Third World Network
Members conclude first round of talks on data, templates
Published in SUNS #6785 dated 5 October 2009
Geneva, 2 Oct (Kanaga
Raja) -- WTO Members on Thursday concluded a first round of meetings
on technical work in relation to deciding what data is needed and how
it would shape the templates that will be used by Members to highlight
their commitments in agriculture.
"We've made a good start," said the Chair of the Special Session
of the Agriculture Committee, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand, at
the end of meetings that took place on 25 September and 1 October.
He informed Members at an informal open-ended meeting of the Special
Session Thursday that they now have a good basis to work on.
According to trade officials, Members now have two sets of papers to
consider, corresponding to the two steps that had been proposed in an
earlier document by Uruguay,
as well as the December 2008 draft modalities text.
Step 1 would be to consider what "base data" are needed under
the present draft modalities text, what is already available, what will
need to be constructed, and whether the draft modalities text says how
this should be done.
According to trade officials, papers from the Cairns Group or from Group
New Zealand, Canada
examined the data needs in each of the three pillars of export competition,
domestic support and market access.
Step 2 would be to design templates or tables that will be used to present
the data before, during or after the modalities have been agreed. A
paper by the US highlights
designs for the tables in the three pillars of export competition, domestic
support and market access.
(The Chair also pointed to a Step 3, namely, filling in the numbers.)
According to trade officials, the two sets of papers (by the Cairns
Group on data and the US on templates) cover the following:
-- Export competition: Export subsidies (but not yet export credit and
state trading enterprises);
-- Domestic support: Overall trade-distorting domestic support (Amber
Box + Blue Box + de minimis); overall and per-product Amber Box ("total"
and "product specific aggregate measurement of support" or
AMS); overall and product-specific Blue Box; and de minimis.
These require base data on present commitments, actual support over
a period of years, and the values of production (both overall and product-specific).
-- Market access: Tariffs; present and Doha Round tariff quotas; and
special safeguards (SSG).
Base data required include present tariff and tariff quota commitments,
calculations of other forms of tariffs as percentages of the price (ad
valorem equivalents), and domestic consumption.
According to trade officials, Members would also have to convert older
versions of how products are defined to the newer 2002 version of the
World Customs Organization's Harmonized System.
Members that spoke at the informal meeting broadly welcomed these contributions,
said trade officials.
The EU said that it would contribute its own ideas for two areas of
export competition: export credit, and state trading enterprises. It
further said that it is discussing with other Members its proposals
for updating its commitments to cover its expansion to 27 members.
Members will now study the papers in capitals before the talks resume
in the week of 12 October. +
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