TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (May10/11)
India, China, Brazil
leadership key to Doha success or failure, says US
Geneva, 10 May (Kanaga Raja) -- The success or failure of the Doha Round depends on whether advanced developing economies such as India, China and Brazil are ready to accept the responsibility and leadership that goes along with their new position in the global economy, the new US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) suggested Monday.
In his first media briefing here since assuming the post of US Permanent Representative to the WTO, Mr Michael Punke, who is also Deputy US Trade Representative, said that there is need to improve the level of ambition and balance in the Doha Round.
to SUNS later, Ambassador Ujal Singh Bhatia of
Asked about the
According to the trade
Other trade observers noted that the "Doha Development Agenda" was all about the leading industrial economies delivering on their promises of long-term reform of their agricultural sector, and the other commitments they undertook at Marrakesh in 1994 and for which they had extracted advance payments from developing countries including Brazil and India, and from China at the time of its accession.
Unable to show leadership and implement their commitments at Marrakesh, and reiterated at Doha, the United States (which in addition has no Congressional support for the trade policy), the EU and other industrialised economies are now trying to mislead public opinion by asking Brazil, China and India "to show leadership and responsibility".
In his opening remarks at the breakfast briefing Monday morning, Ambassador Punke said that he is here with the support of the US government to negotiate a Doha Round outcome that is "balanced and ambitious".
"We are on a more productive path in Geneva, post-stocktaking (on the Doha Round, held from 22-26 March) than perhaps we've been on before," he said, adding that it is significant to him what the Doha stocktaking exercise did not conclude -- "there was no call for a new arbitrary deadline" and "there was no call for a manufactured event, some 'big bang' effort to revive the Doha Round."
Those are the types
of approaches that have not been successful in the past and what the
WTO Membership embraced instead is the notion that there has to be a
lot of hard work in multiple configurations. In this context, he pointed
to the discussions on the need for multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral
interactions, saying that the
The common denominator
in all of these interactions is that there has to be negotiations, he
said further, adding: "I need counterparts that are ready and empowered
to negotiate. And I particularly need those counterparts in the context
of our bilateral discussions with
At the end of the day, the success or failure of the Doha Round comes down to a very simple question -- "are advanced developing economies like India, China and Brazil ready to accept the responsibility and the leadership that goes along with their new position in the global economy," he asked.
"If they are ready to accept that responsibility and leadership, we will have a successful outcome to the Round. If they are not ready to accept that leadership and responsibility, we won't have a successful outcome...," said Ambassador Punke.
Responding to questions, Punke said "what is critical right now is that we improve the ambition and the balance of the Round." What is key right now "is figuring out how we improve the ambition level and improve the balance."
Asked what specific
commitments were needed from
He said that the
In agriculture, the
In the area of services,
Punke said that the
"In all of these
areas, the mystery is not what the
In response to another question, he said that he has been "frustrated" with some of the characterizations of the US position in the press recently in terms of the issue of "is the US willing to pay more for the Round," adding: "And frankly, I think that that represents a real mis-characterization of where we are at. The starting point in our discussion is that the Round, as it stands now, is not sufficiently balanced. The only way to improve that balance in the Round is to engage in negotiations."
He claimed that two-thirds of the tariffs that are collected by advanced developing economies are paid by other developing economies.
In response to a question,
he expressed hope that countries like
Asked to define "development"
in the context of the Doha Development Round, Punke said that there
is need to get beyond "this notion of the monolithic developing
world." He was of the view that it is not accurate to think of
One of the key development objectives of the Doha Round is "increasing access to the advanced developing economies from the simple standpoint that those are the economies that are likely to grow the most over the next 20 years, and also from the standpoint that those are economies where some of the most significant barriers still remain."
He was of the view
that in the
In response to another
question, he said that the situation after July 2008 was one of deadlock.
"And I think the creative approach that we have taken to create that higher ambition and greater balance is to focus on those key sectors in those key markets that are of the highest importance to us. And from that standpoint, our focus has been on bilateral engagement, because we think that's the most focused way to address our priorities."
"We're there, we're ready to talk, and we're certainly hopeful that India, China and Brazil and the other advanced developing countries will step up to the leadership responsibility that's incumbent upon their side."
Asked whether the US still does not accept the 2008 texts as a basis for further negotiations, Punke claimed that there was no agreement in July 2008 and said that India and China, for example, expressly walked away from what was on the table in July 2008.
"... I don't think that it is useful to pretend that July 2008 was something more than what it was. Specifically, I don't think it's useful to pretend that July 2008 was representative of agreement. It was not an agreement. In fact, the US was very clear at the time in saying that more was required in the way of sectoral agreements on the NAMA (non-agricultural market access) side, more was required in the way of services, which frankly, has barely been touched at this juncture," he said.
In response to another question, he acknowledged that there are significant gaps and "I don't think any of us should try and sugar-coat that. What I believe is that if we're going to overcome those gaps, that it has to involve real negotiations..." +