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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov09/10)
13 November 2009
Third World Network

Overall picture positive, but more work needed, says NAMA Chair
Published in SUNS #6811 dated 10 November 2009

Geneva, 9 Nov (Kanaga Raja) -- The overall picture of the negotiations is positive but more work is needed to update and merge proposals, the Chair of the WTO Negotiating Group on Market Access for Non-Agricultural Products (NAMA), Ambassador Luzius Wasescha of Switzerland, said Friday.

Ambassador Wasescha provided this assessment to journalists following the conclusion of a week of NAMA negotiations (2-6 November) that was mostly devoted (in plenary, bilateral and plurilateral meetings) to analyzing the different proposals in relation to problems associated with Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and how to solve them.

The Chair further told journalists that at least in terms of the NTBs, Members have not yet reached the 80% result that they might have reached in the overall Doha negotiations. He also said that the NAMA apple is still not ripe enough to be eaten.

Several proposals on NTBs were discussed during the week.

Among these include a proposal by India and the European Communities on a framework for industry-specific NTB proposals (JOB09/105) that involves a so-called "horizontal mechanism" to solve NTB problems.

According to trade officials, the US considered the proposal to be "not realistic" and also unnecessary and bureaucratic. Japan and China wanted to evaluate the impact on their industries. Some Members also expressed worry over the conflict between this mechanism and the Dispute Settlement Mechanism.

A proposal by Cuba on a decision on the elimination of non-tariff barriers imposed as unilateral trade measures (TN/MA/W/94/Rev. 2) was also discussed.

According to trade officials, support for the proposal came from Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil. The US said that "it does not believe that this proposal can gain consensus".

Another proposal that was discussed was from the European Communities in respect of negotiating text on an Agreement on Non-Tariff Barriers pertaining to standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for automotive products (TN/MA/W/118).

According to trade officials, Mexico was of the view that the proposal is "complex". The US also said that it is complex and prescriptive and does not have enough flexibility. Hong Kong-China also voiced its difficulties with the proposal.

A proposal by the European Communities and Switzerland on negotiating text in respect of an understanding on the interpretation of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade as applied to trade in electronics (TN/MA/W/119), was viewed by the US and Australia as restrictive and "over-prescriptive".

According to trade officials, Mexico said that it shows lack of sensitivity towards developing countries. Japan, China and Indonesia also had problems with the proposal, while Canada was of the view that the proposal could be unworkable.

The Group also discussed a proposal by Japan, Switzerland and the United States on negotiating text concerning liberalizing trade in re-manufactured goods (TN/MA/W/18/Add. 16/Rev. 3).

Trade officials said that while there is still no clear definition of "re-manufactured goods", there were some proposals. The US is aiming at a work programme after the Doha Round is concluded.

According to trade officials, Cuba said that it does not think that this proposal can gather consensus. Indonesia said that it has "severe reservations".

On a US proposal on an Agreement on Non-Tariff Barriers pertaining to standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for automotive products (TN/MA/W/120), trade officials said that Members are in the process of exchanging questions and answers and providing clarifications.

Members are also in the process of exchanging questions and answers and providing clarifications concerning a US proposal on negotiating text on non-tariff barriers pertaining to the electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electronic goods (TN/M/W/105/Rev. 2).

The Group also took up a proposal by the European Communities, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and the US in relation to an understanding on the interpretation of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade with respect to the labeling of textiles, clothing, footwear and travel goods (TN/MA/W/93/Rev. 1).

According to trade officials, the Chair considered that this proposal is "pretty stable".

At an open-ended informal meeting of the Group on 6 November, Ambassador Wasescha said that he was happy that there has been a real exchange of views and constructive interaction among Members.

On the issue of the sectoral initiative, he reported that there was not much information given but Members have continued talking to each other in bilateral meetings.

The Chair asked for more detailed reports from Members on these consultations.

According to trade officials, the Chair said that he will continue small-group consultations on NTBs in the coming week, and that he will hold meetings with senior officials in the week of 23 November.

He also said that he will convene further meetings in early December, including another week of NAMA talks. +

 


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