TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar10/09)
WTO members prepare for “stocktaking exercise”
the WTO, Pascal Lamy had told the WTO membership at the February 22
General Council meeting that the stocktaking would be conducted at the
level of capital-based senior officials, rather than the Ministerial-level
he had hoped for. In the week prior to Lamy’s announcement to the WTO
According to senior
trade diplomats, Lamy still had hopes that the stock taking will provide
enough clarity on the remaining gaps in the Doha Round. And he had
hoped that the Chairs of agriculture and NAMA (non-agriculture market
access) negotiations could draft revised
In the US last week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the National Press Club that Doha could progress if 'advanced developing economies such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa come to the table' with better offers.
Lamy visited United
States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk on March 10th
and met with Congress officials from the Senate Finance and
In his statement to the WTO’s General Council on February 22, he said the stocktaking should, “identify progress made until now at the technical level and the outstanding gaps. On the multilateral side this could be done by the Negotiating Chairs in factual reports to the TNC [trade negotiating committee] under their own responsibility…With respect to the work taking place bilaterally among a number of you, I believe that by the time of the stocktaking…we should have a clearer sense from the participants on the gaps in their positions as well as a clearer sense of a negotiating dynamic to address these gaps”
Most delegations are
not very enthusiastic about the stock taking because they feel the non-presence
of one of the key players: the
In the Davos meeting,
Some trade diplomats
are now saying that the stocktaking should be about deciding what happens
Early harvest elements
include granting LDCs 97% duty free and quota free market access, another
is a waiver for LDCs in services. Some also talk about resolving the
cotton issue and concluding trade facilitation negotiations in advance.
A fourth item that certain key countries are suggesting is ripe for
action is the elimination of European export subsidies. The EU has
already committed to eliminating them by 2013 and other countries like
“These are the worst
type of subsidies, bad for development, not good for the world, especially
when rich countries undermine local production in developing countries.
If we can’t make progress on some issues, this will give us some momentum
and it will show that
Increasingly, talk about “suspension” of the Round is also surfacing. According to one senior diplomat, the reason to conclude the Round cannot be based solely on the notion that having no conclusion will weaken the multilateral trading system. He said, “The main reason to conclude should be that it benefits our countries and whether it will be good for humanity.”
There is also uncertainty about how the “factual reports” by the Chairs of the various negotiating groups will be drafted and whether there will be a chance to comment on them before they are presented to senior officials at the stocktaking. Also, there are questions about whether negotiations will take place when senior officials are in town to warrant revised texts in agriculture and NAMA.
“Having another revised text really depends on whether there is anything new to add in the text —if no real negotiations take place, then how can it be possible to produce revised texts? It is risky for the secretariat to do so,” said an Ambassador from a developing country.
The agriculture chair has been asking diplomats about what a possible factual report could look like.
“There are many perplexities all around right now. This exercise is disastrous—no one knows how to conduct this [stocktaking]. There is no reasonable way of negotiating the text without pressurizing everyone’s position,” said one trade diplomat.