TWN Info Service
on WTO and Trade Issues (July10/10)
19 July 2010
Third World Network
still substantial, says new Rules Chair
Published in SUNS #6966 dated 15
14 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- There has been a degree of convergence on many
issues, but the remaining differences are very substantial and won't
be easy to resolve, the new Chair of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules,
Ambassador Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago,
Speaking at an informal
meeting of the Rules Group on 13 July, the new Chair, who has replaced
outgoing Chair Ambassador Guillermo Valles Galmes of Uruguay who has
returned to capital, said that there is no substitute for hard work
and constructive engagement.
The new Chair invited
delegations to meet with him bilaterally this week, adding that he has
already scheduled 20 such consultations. He further said that the rules
negotiations are part of the single undertaking under the Doha Round,
and that the Group is not starting from the scratch, as he was in fact
the fourth chair of the Group.
The informal meeting
was preceded by a short formal session, where the Group elected by acclamation
Ambassador Francis as its new Chair. Ambassador Francis told the formal
session that he saw his new position as a significant challenge, and
pledged to do everything he could to move the work of the Group forward.
Following the announcement
by the previous Rules Group Chair that he was being recalled to capital,
the General Council Chair Ambassador John Gero of Canada had been
conducting consultations, with the assistance of the Chair of the Dispute
Settlement Body, regarding a successor for Ambassador Galmes.
The General Council
Chair subsequently informed delegations on 14 June that the consultations
had shown a consensus among Members on the appointment of Ambassador
Francis and that he is expected to be formally elected Chair at the
next formal meeting of the Rules Group.
Speaking during the
informal session Tuesday, Japan, on behalf of the Friends of the Anti-dumping
Negotiations (FANs, includes amongst others Brazil, Chile, Korea, Norway,
Switzerland, Chinese Taipei and Thailand), said that the FANs have tabled
more than 100 proposals, and urged that the anti-dumping negotiations
be further intensified.
According to trade
officials, Japan said that
there have been anti-dumping measures in existence for thirty years
and this situation is unacceptable. It further said that anti-dumping
measures have distorted world trade, and that they are being used by
more countries. It expressed particular interest on the issue of "zeroing",
which it said is an important issue for the FANs, together with other
issues such as sunset, public interest and the lesser-duty rule.
On fisheries subsidies,
Japan called for
limiting the scope of disciplines: fisheries subsidies to be targeted
should only be those that directly lead to over-fishing and overcapacity;
and that special provisions for developing countries should not be too
China said that the
result in rules is an indispensable part of the Doha Round outcome,
and that the aim should be to make the rules clearer and more transparent,
adding that clear rules are especially important in the post-crisis
Agreement on "zeroing"
and other issues is a precondition for an anti-dumping outcome, said
China. On fisheries
said that negotiations have to recognize the needs of developing countries.
According to trade
officials, Morocco, on behalf
of the Arab Group, said that they attach great importance to the development
dimension of the rules area - there should be special treatment for
developing countries, and sufficient flexibility in fisheries subsidies.
It also cited the need to avoid more complex rules, and the provision
of adequate technical assistance.
New Zealand, on behalf
of the "Friends of Fish" (comprising Argentina, Australia,
Chile, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Peru and the United States),
referred to figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
and the World Bank, and said that the situation of the world fish resources
It further said that
there is a unique opportunity for the Group to produce a win for trade,
a win for the environment, and a win for development in the area of
fisheries subsidies. It strongly supported the prohibition of fisheries
subsidies, and called for intensified negotiations based on the previous
Chair's text on fisheries subsidies.
According to trade
officials, Ghana, on behalf of the African Group and the African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group,
called for more emphasis on the development issues, particularly in
providing special and differential treatment to developing countries.
It called for less complex rules, and urged work on regional trade agreements
in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
Kenya, speaking on behalf of the ACP
Group on the issue of fisheries subsidies, called for limiting the scope
of prohibition and for granting exemptions to developing countries.
The US said that it is committed to achieving
a balanced and ambitious agreement in all areas of this negotiation.
Overall, the process
seems to be working and it believed that progress in being made.
In order to continue
to make progress, the US said that the
Group must remain engaged at a technical level to better understand
each others' views and positions. "This, in turn, should better
position all of us to find ways to reach compromise on difficult issues."
According to the US, strong and effective anti-dumping
and subsidy rules encourage greater trade liberalization because they
provide Members with some assurance that mechanisms remain in place
to address unfair trade practices. In other words, trade remedy instruments
function as an important "safety valve" for participants in
the rules-based trading system. It noted that developing country Members
are increasingly using this safety valve.
The US strongly supported the inclusion
of nearly all of the transparency and due process provisions in the
December 2008 draft text.
The US said that the Chair's December
2008 text identifies several issues of particular interest, including
sunset, public interest and lesser duty. It expressed concern over proposals
from some Members that lessen the strength and effectiveness of the
existing trade remedy rules, counter to the mandate. "It is important
that Members understand that the United States
has very little flexibility in these areas."
Noting that some Members
have been calling for an explicit prohibition on "zeroing"
in any final agreement, the US said: "Suffice it to say that the United States
continues to maintain that any final Antidumping Agreement must accommodate
the critical issue of zeroing in a manner that respects the legitimate
differences that exist among Members' antidumping laws and practices."
On the issue of fisheries
subsidies, the US supported the statement of New Zealand on
behalf of Friends of Fish, saying that it sees this negotiation as part
of the effort by the WTO to balance the interests of trade and the environment.
The Rules Group has
made considerable progress toward achieving its mandate and the Chair's
draft text is a good basis for work. "We are pleased that the Chair's
text features a strong prohibition at the centre of the discipline,
consistent with our shared mandate," said the US.
It stressed that it
has been a leader in the discussions by submitting proposals to address
the technical and legal complexities of this negotiation, but always
within the context of obtaining an ambitious outcome.
The US said that it will support clear,
appropriate, and effective flexibilities through special and differential
treatment, provided that they do not undermine overall ambition or create
loopholes for fleets that are already operating at full capacity.
The US also noted that the work on the
horizontal subsidy rules has resulted in little progress, if any, on
strengthening disciplines. This represents a serious failing of this
Group to meet its mandate and deserves greater attention.
In terms of specifics,
the US said that it
remained concerned with the issue of state-owned banks lending to un-creditworthy
state-owned enterprises and remained committed to working on this issue
According to trade
officials, India said that
the Group faces a formidable task ahead on a number of issues in anti-dumping,
including "zeroing", sunset and lesser-duty rule. It said
that it is an active user of anti-dumping measures but that its exports
are also subject to these measures.
also said that it had made recent proposals on horizontal subsidies,
and together with Brazil,
China and Mexico, on fisheries
Zambia, speaking on behalf of the
Least Developed Countries (LDCs), called for more flexibility in fisheries
subsidies. It also urged making anti-dumping and subsidies agreements
According to trade
officials, the European Union agreed with the Chair that the Doha Round
is a package deal, and that participants must "keep it together".
It said that a lot of work needs to be done in all the areas.
On the issue of anti-dumping,
it urged the use of other meeting configurations aside from plenary
meetings. On fisheries subsidies, the EU called for a balanced outcome
- it said that one cannot just replace one fishing fleet with another
said that it fully supported Japan's statement
on behalf of the FANs. On horizontal subsidies, it called for addressing
what it said is the current imbalance with respect to export credits
between developed and developing countries. On fisheries subsidies,
it supported a strong prohibition.
In concluding the meeting,
the Chair said that he has listened very carefully to messages from
delegations, adding that he would be consulting intensively with individual
delegations this week.
He took note of the
shared recognition in the Group of the importance of the work in the
rules area, and the common commitment to move forward.
According to trade
officials, the Chair expected the Group to resume its efforts in all
areas, and has provisionally scheduled a round of meetings in the week
of 1 November. He will consult with delegations on the possibility of
holding an earlier round of meetings in September. +
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