TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov09/15)
25 November 2009
Third World Network

Work on templates moves ahead, some signs of movement on SSM
Published in SUNS #6821 dated 24 November 2009

Geneva, 23 Nov (Kanaga Raja) -- Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), at their latest week of agriculture negotiations ending 20 November, continued to discuss work on setting up templates for their commitments in agriculture, with the work in this area to continue in the week of 7 December.

According to trade officials, there also appeared to be some tentative signs of movement on the key issue of the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) during private consultations in the week held by the Chair of the negotiations, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand.

Members discussed the work on templates on 16 November and again briefly on 20 November.

According to trade officials, Members are moving from the first stage of the task in relation to identifying what is needed to the second stage involving the design of forms that will eventually contain the commitments of Members.

Trade officials said that among the issues where on-going work remains is on how to implement the "no new products, no new markets" provisions on export subsidies.

Another issue is on identifying how much of a country's "Blue Box" domestic support is for individual products.

The issue of missing data (in order to calculate some of the commitments) was discussed on 17 November.

According to trade officials, concerned delegations were asked to supply the data by 4 December in order for Members to study these.

The Chair held private consultations with some delegations during the week on the issues of special products, the Special Safeguard Mechanism and tropical products and preferences.

Trade officials said that judging from the Chair's report and the comments of one Member (India) on 20 November, there seems to be progress made on the issue of the Special Safeguard Mechanism.

Ambassador Walker said that it was clear that Members have been analyzing the proposal technically.

According to trade officials, India confirmed that by exchanging technical notes, countries were able to move away from entrenched positions.

The Chair however informed Members that positions remain divided on the number of special products that developing countries can select.

The Chair further said that he heard that some Members were close to agreement on tropical products but were not quite ready to bring the issue back to the full membership. Part of this is in relation to the issue of bananas.

According to trade officials, India said that the "haze" covering the bilateral talks on bananas had not been lifted.

It said that bananas should be treated as a separate issue from tropical products and preferences in the agriculture negotiations.

The agriculture negotiations continue in the week of 7 December. +