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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Aug11/03)
3 August 2011
Third World Network
 

Members urged to agree on LDC deliverables for MC8
Published in SUNS #7200 dated 28 July 2011
 
Geneva, 27 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- A number of developing countries have urged WTO members to make efforts to still try to agree on a set of deliverables for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the upcoming eighth Ministerial Conference (MC8) in December, in the absence of an "LDCplus" package that everyone now sees is not doable by the December time-line.
 
Members also stressed on the need to focus efforts on the non-Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues for MC8 and the Doha agenda post-MC8.
 
These views were voiced by members in their interventions at an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) on 26 July.
 
In its intervention, Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDCs, stressed that a concrete set of deliverables for LDCs can be a critical litmus test for the success and feasibility of the DDA negotiations, and that members must not squander away the broad convergence reached on the LDC-specific issues, and should forge ahead to build a successful MC8 outcome on this basis.
 
The Arab Group said that the idea of getting tangible results for the LDCs by the end of the year is something of great importance to the Group, adding: "We should see if there is a way to deliver something for them."
 
While the ACP Group said that the LDC package is the central piece of any package in December and not vice versa, the Dominican Republic, on behalf of the informal group of developing countries, stressed the need for a deliverable package for LDCs by MC8.
 
The African Group, pointing to the three LDC issues of Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) market access for LDC products, LDC services waiver and a solution on the cotton issue in line with the Hong Kong mandate, said that these three issues are fairly low hanging fruits and present an opportunity to demonstrate to the outside world that the Multilateral Trading System could indeed work for all.
 
China underscored the need to help LDCs through a December package, and the problems of agreeing on an LDCplus, and said: "So, we must make a quick and simple decision either we should collectively work out a LDC Only Package or we could have no package. That's the difficult and painful reality we have to face."
 
Both Brazil and India stressed the need for a package benefiting the LDCs at MC8.
 
Brazil said that the realisation that an LDCplus is not doable, should not lead to a hastened conclusion that deliverables for LDCs are impossible, nor that LDC deliverables become undesirable or unnecessary. The credibility and legitimacy of any outcomes at MC8 will be tested against the WTO's capacity to deliver on issues that are development friendly and of direct interest to the LDCs, and Brazil continued to be ready to work in the direction of such an LDC oriented outcome.
 
India said that while they could not succeed in an ambitious LDCplus package for MC8, it was still open to the membership to take a very significant step of an LDC only package by December. Such a package would indeed provide a strong affirmation of the credibility of the WTO and its commitment to the cause of development of the poorest countries.
 
It became apparent at the informal TNC meeting that an LDCplus package as envisaged in May for the upcoming eighth WTO Ministerial Conference in December is no longer doable, with Director-General Pascal Lamy acknowledging that it "is not taking shape as we would have wished".
 
In a report at the informal meeting, the Director-General, who is also the TNC Chair, suggested that in light of the current political environment, the most realistic and practical way forward is to work on the two tracks of non-Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues and the DDA agenda post-MC8. In parallel, Lamy proposed that Members should also keep working on "MC8 possible DDA deliverables that could respond to the aspirations of LDCs."
 
According to trade officials, while all Members support these two tracks being intensified, they differ on whether or not it will be possible to do an LDC stand-alone deal on the core LDC issues (namely, Duty-Free Quota-Free market access for LDC products, simplified rules of origin, a services waiver for LDCs, and a "step forward" on cotton.)
 
(See SUNS #7199 dated 27 July 2011 for details of the Director-General's report to the TNC.)
 
At a meeting of the General Council on Wednesday, under the agenda item of report by the Chairman of the TNC, Lamy said that the TNC meeting of the previous day had endorsed the course of action that he had suggested.
 
"It also endorsed the need to develop a shared diagnosis over the current impasse in the Doha Development Agenda, which is at the heart of the negotiating function of the WTO, as a means to prepare a discussion over possible solutions as well as over emerging issues. As I indicated at the meeting, I will after the summer recess intensify my consultations to that effect, to prepare Ministers for a discussion at MC8," Lamy told the General Council meeting.
 
At the informal TNC meeting on Tuesday, a number of countries spoke following the report by the TNC Chair. (At the General Council meeting a day later, under the agenda item of report by the Chairman of the TNC, countries asked for their statements made at the informal TNC, where no minutes are kept, to be put on the record of the General Council meeting, trade officials said.)
 
Speaking at the informal TNC meeting, Bangladesh, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), said that when Lamy first mooted the idea of possible deliverables from MC8, "we all agreed that we should try striking a balance between our ambition for the conclusion of Doha and the practicable realities on the ground. Accordingly, we identified a set of LDC-specific priority issues as having the most legitimate ground for being delivered from MC8."
 
"This so-called ‘early harvest' package is very much in line with the Doha mandate, and in no way would compromise the ‘Single Undertaking' principle of the ongoing DDA negotiations. There emerged a broad convergence among membership about these LDC-specific issues as the essential building block for any possible MC8 outcome. We must acknowledge that it would be rather naive to qualify an LDC specific outcome at this point as an ‘early harvest'. These are commitments that our Ministers had made more than a decade ago. In fact for the millions of peoples in LDCs, this would be a rather ‘late harvest' after having waited for a decade of dry spell since Doha. However, this would send a clear and unequivocal message to the outside world that we remain steadfast in our commitment to the conclusion of Doha. A concrete set of deliverables for LDCs can be a critical litmus test for the success and feasibility of DDA negotiations," said Bangladesh.
 
"It is, indeed, time that we translate these commitments into tangible and result-oriented outcomes for LDCs. The facts and figures on the ground are stacked against any further attempt to shift the goalpost for reaching these commitments. The recent food, fuel and financial crisis have exacted a hefty price on LDCs, rolling back their hard-earned development gains. We need not wait for even greater disasters to befall on LDCs to give us a rude awakening into action. For over one decade, the LDCs have pinned their hope on taming the elusive unicorn of the conclusion of Doha in the belief that it would help unlock their development potentials through integration into the multilateral trading system. This has nonetheless remained largely a myth for them."
 
Bangladesh noted that there have been some autonomous decisions taken by some member states regarding duty free and quota free (DFQF) market access for LDCs. However, this falls short of our decision in Hong Kong to implement DFQF market access for LDCs within a multilateral framework, with in-built flexibilities for those in a position to offer such access. The agreement reached in this regard is a fait accompli despite its inherent gaps against the larger interest of the LDCs. What the LDCs have been asking for since Hong Kong is to attain clarity on the implementation of this provision.
 
"In order to dispel any unwarranted misgivings, we need to understand the real cost implications for an agreement on, and implementation of, the LDC-specific deliverables at MC8. As the existing figures illustrate, the share of LDCs in developed countries import is a meager 1.26 per cent of which only 0.7 per cent account for non-oil imports. It is inconceivable that agreement and implementation of an early harvest package for LDCs, even in its entirety, would put any further considerable strain on developed countries imports. In case we do honestly mean to double the share of LDC exports in the next one decade, this is an exercise we must embark upon without any further delay."
 
Bangladesh further said: "We have always maintained that the LDC package for MC8 should be de-linked from other issues. It would be rather unfortunate, and an injustice, if the LDC-specific issues were to be held hostage to divergences over the so-called LDC-plus package. Yet, once again, LDCs need not bear the brunt of political differences on a much broader canvas that would hardly be impacted upon by any change to their situation. Moreover, LDCs were not implicated in any disagreement over the possible shape and contour of the LDC-plus package. We must not squander away the broad convergence reached on the LDC-specific issues, and should forge ahead to build a successful MC8 outcome on this basis. In case LDCs were to lower the threshold of their ambition for MC8, we urge Members to ascertain and ascribe clear responsibilities for any such eventuality."
 
Bangladesh also said that members must remain cautious about conflating or supplanting LDC-related non-DDA issues with the clearly identified LDC "early harvest" package. "We must also start working towards agreeing on a post-MC8 work programme on DDA negotiations, with due attention given to LDC concerns and interest."
 
It urged Members to recognize that what the LDCs are asking for has a legitimate basis in the commitments they had secured so far, more so since they are long overdue. "We have been patiently waiting for a window of opportunity to see these commitments bear fruit, especially since Hong Kong. But every time there has been a chink in our wall, we have met with another insurmountable one, as if in concentric circles. We must wake up to the fact that this is eating away at the very foundations of our House. We cannot afford to make repeated retreats from hitting against these walls since it would amount to surrendering to defeat. Once again, MC8 offers us a chance to join our ranks and make an advance in the right direction. It is writ large on the walls that MC8 can be and should be the moment for LDCs."
 
According to trade officials, Mexico said that there will be no outcome this year for the DDA and perhaps there will be no package for the LDCs by the end of the year. There is need for a clear-cut way forward coming from MC8 and a package for the LDCs. We need to know the specific work programme based on the two tracks, i. e. non-DDA issues to be taken up at MC8 and post-MC8.
 
Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Arab Group, said that it regrets that in the immediate term, members will not be able to find a way to help the poorest among them. It had hoped that the LDC issue was something that could provide momentum to the DDA, placing trade and development at its heart. The idea of getting tangible results for the LDCs by the end of the year is something of great importance to Saudi Arabia and the Arab Group. We should see if there is a way to deliver something for them. There is also need for a road-map to help establish the direction for the negotiations. The Arab Group is committed to a successful outcome for the DDA.
 
Jamaica, on behalf of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, said that while it noted some progress in the negotiations on certain issues, it is frustrated at their slow pace and more particularly some attempts to complicate issues where the mandate for LDCs was very clear. "Let me remind members that on DFQF, the mandate clearly calls for at least 97% of lines to be completely liberalised for LDCs by developed countries and developing countries declaring themselves in a position to do so."
 
On cotton, the ACP Group said that it regrets to state that it has noted very little progress. "Here also the Hong Kong mandate was clear in that paragraph 11 calls on developed countries to provide DFQF on cotton and Members also agreed that all trade distorting domestic subsidies on cotton be reduced more ambitiously than under the general formula to be agreed. We are aware now that we shall not achieve full modalities neither on Agriculture nor on cotton in December."
 
"This is why we have only requested for a positive step forward which we believe, however, must be in keeping with the spirit of the Hong Kong mandate. This positive step for the G-90 implies a discussion on some form of freeze on trade distorting subsidies. It is also obvious for the G-90 that the US has a larger responsibility here to deliver on this first step. We are willing therefore to consider the provisions on cotton in the new forthcoming US farm bill as a basis for this first step in so far as firstly, it incorporates the recommendations of recent dispute settlement proceedings and secondly a clear pathway is elaborated in MC8 to achieve full modalities in cotton in the context of the DDA work plan for post 2011."
 
The ACP Group said that it would also welcome any positive step either in market access or domestic support by other developing Members declaring themselves in a position to do so which could assist the LDCs. In this regard, the ACP Group also welcomed China's efforts in recent years to improve market access in cotton for LDCs. China is the main market for cotton exports of African countries and imports from China have been growing consistently. China in 2010 imported 35% of C-4 (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) countries cotton exports, the ACP Group added.
 
"At the level of the G-90, we are doing our utmost to keep the negotiations in line with the mandate and whenever possible to simplify our demands with a view to enable consensus. We are willing to show this same disposition on rules of origin, the services waiver, in cotton subsidies and on DFQF including on the standstill for cotton subsidies. We, however, do not think that it is proper to use the LDC issues either to extend and multiply linkages with a broader plus agenda in an inflexible manner," said the ACP Group.
 
The ACP Group added: "We have stated at the level of the ACP that we would welcome any low hanging fruits that are harvestable. But the ACP is not imposing an outcome on any plus issue as a condition for an LDC deliverable. Likewise, we do not want the LDC issues to be used as a means to unravel stabilised parts of the Agriculture draft modalities. The LDC package whether with a plus or not must allow us to move forward in the DDA and not, under any circumstances, to make a step backward. For the ACP, the LDC package is the central piece of any package in December and not vice versa," the ACP Group said.
 
Indonesia, on behalf of Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that in June it had offered two key points. First, it supported the LDCplus package as a building block including DFQF and rules of origin, but it now appears to ASEAN that this has little traction in terms of gaining progress in the negotiations. The focus should now be on the non-DDA concerns at MC8 and the post-MC8 agenda for Doha. If development deliverables for the LDCs can be identified, ASEAN would be happy to look at this. It also said that trade facilitation is something that could be of benefit to all members. Secondly, said ASEAN, there is need for a clear work programme for all issues to be addressed after MC8.
 
The Dominican Republic, on behalf of the informal group of developing countries, said that it was deeply disappointed that members were not able to realize this package (for the LDCs). It is shameful that members could not reaffirm the development dimension and help the poorest members. It thought that members need to continue to pursue a development outcome that is in line with the Doha mandate, the 2004 framework and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration (of 2005). There needs to be a deliverable package for LDCs by MC8 and a clear road map.
 
Kenya, on behalf of the African Group, supported the statement made by Bangladesh on behalf of the LDCs, Jamaica on behalf of the ACP and Dominican Republic on behalf of the Informal Group of Developing Countries.
 
The African Group said it is willing and stands ready to engage positively in furthering the work of the negotiating groups to harvest a small package of the DDA during the MC8 and also more importantly a work programme post December 2011 with precise and clear time-lines of concluding the Doha Round in addition to non-DDA issues.
 
The African Group said it "would today like to be very clear from the onset to the wider membership that the world outside is watching us very keenly more than ever before. For 10 years, they have been treated to the longest soap opera in the name of the DDA. For the majority of the poorest members, watching the soap opera has been the most costly and frustrating affair, for their aspirations and dreams are postponed year in, year out with almost now no end in sight."
 
"We began the year 2011 on a high note, setting Easter as an important beacon for reassessment on the progress towards conclusion of the DDA, and alas! Like an old record stuck on a stylus, we were back to the same rhythm of ‘interpretation of mandates', ‘levels of ambition', ‘Realities' ‘Modes' ‘meaning of voluntary and mandatory', among others. Nevertheless, we picked on and agreed to work on a small package for the most poorest of our members as we continue to explore ways of unlocking and concluding other key market access issues."
 
The next thing, the Group noted was another parallel growing list of what are now in our parlance referred to as "the plus issues". From experience and history, the Group said "this approach will not lead us anywhere and the group would therefore like to categorically state that it would be a plain shame if nothing can be delivered for the LDCs in December."
 
It said it does recognise that the LDCs issues have since narrowed down to three and it hoped that they do not thin down further; for nothing would then be left. The three issues, the African Group underlined, are Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF), LDC services waiver and a solution on the cotton issue in line with the Hong Kong mandate.
 
It is the view of the African Group, and "as we stated during the May 2011 TNC, that the three issues are fairly low hanging fruits and present to us an opportunity to demonstrate to the outside world that the Multilateral Trading System could indeed work for all. In addition, and being realistic about the calendar, only the three issues are deliverable in December 2011, though of course, some hard work and the right political choices would have to be made."
 
"At this point, allow me to repeat once again that it will be a shame if we continue going round in endless circles and deliver nothing come December 2011 for the poorest members whose aspirations and dreams of fighting poverty keep being postponed for eternity," said the African Group.
 
The European Union said that it had participated in the Director-General's consultations since Easter with an open mind, and with a strong determination to play a constructive role.
 
"Members' willingness to work towards a package of deliverables for December seems to be waning; from our point of view, this is highly regrettable. The global economy has definitely gone through some major changes since the launch of this Round - but the LDCs' needs remain as pressing as ever, and WTO members have a collective responsibility to deliver on them. The nucleus of any package for December was clearly always going to be a set of issues of direct interest for the Least Developed Countries. There was and still is a very large agreement in the membership about this. Within this nucleus, apart from cotton domestic support which is arguably more complex in terms of depth of reform, other issues - RoO [rules of origin], LDC services waiver and of course, primarily, DFQF - ought to be doable without payment for anyone, as long as all main players make a contribution."
 
The EU further said: "Only as a second step should we be considering the feasibility of the ‘plus' components of the LDC plus package. Here, we believe that certain outcomes would be possible if the political willingness was there, based on the consultations held so far. A crucial instrument to support LDCs' increased access to markets and, consequently, trade-driven growth and poverty reduction is the draft Trade Facilitation Agreement. It is a significant multiplier in terms of the value of any package for the LDCs, and for the membership as a whole."
 
The EU added that "there have also been discussions on other possible components of a December package, and in some areas we have detected positive signs of engagement. In particular, it would seem that a step on fisheries subsidies and on environmental goods could be conceivable. This would be important, also because both of these components would constitute a step forward for the benefit of the environment."
 
The EU said it can endorse Lamy's suggestions on the way forward: on non-DDA issues, on post MC8 DDA, and of course in parallel keep working on MC8 possible LDC focussed deliverables that can respond to the aspirations of LDCs.
 
"The EU has made it very clear that for us any December package would in any case be just the first stage on the path towards agreements on all issues on the Doha negotiating agenda. We therefore agree that the membership must also start structured reflections about our work programme beyond the end of this year. In this exercise, attention needs to be directed at all negotiating topics, both on the regulatory and market access side, and the approach must be to build on what has been achieved."
 
The EU said: "It is also important to start from a proper examination of what is holding us back in the WTO. We should of course aim at a shared diagnosis as you suggested, Mr. Chairman, rather to gravitate too quickly on solutions based on simplistic not really shared diagnosis. On the other hand, we should be mindful, in opening up this debate, in structuring it in such a way that it does not lead to a prolonged void in the negotiating agenda of the organisation, which could create new risks for the WTO system including feeding the temptation to seek solutions outside of the multilateral trading system rather than inside. In our view, it will be essential to intensify such a process as soon as possible after the summer recess."
 
Brazil (represented by Ambassador Roberto Azevedo) noted that "the reason why we decided to work on possible DDA deliverables for the December Ministerial Conference was the fact that we concluded, last Easter, that the full DDA single undertaking could not be finalised in 2011. We wanted to send a message to the world at large, showing that WTO Members could still agree on meaningful truly multilateral outcomes. A critical element of that message was the delivery of a package that had development and the LDCs at its core."
 
"However, the LDC package we originally conceived had to be enlarged - becoming an LDC+ package - because some Members felt that they needed more elements in the mix, so as to enable positive political consideration by their domestic constituencies. We now have to come to grips with the fact that, for a number of reasons, the LDC+ package is not going to come together. This situation stems from apparently insurmountable difficulties signalled by a number of Members in the various areas that composed the enlarged mini-package we were working with. The ‘red lines' came from both developed and developing countries, from G7 and non-G7 countries, with arguments both for raising and for lowering ambition. In short, the ‘plus' package proved to be simply and unequivocally unmanageable and undoable within the timeframe available," said Brazil.
 
"This realisation, however, should not lead us to a hastened conclusion that deliverables for LDCs are impossible. Nor did LDC deliverables become undesirable or unnecessary. For Brazil, the credibility and legitimacy of any outcomes at the VIII Ministerial Conference will be tested against our capacity to deliver on issues that are development friendly and of direct interest to the poorest among us. Brazil was and continues to be ready to work in the direction of an LDC oriented outcome by December."
 
Nonetheless, added Brazil, "given the short amount of time that separates us from the next Ministerial, we must also engage more urgently and intensely on two issues that so far have stayed mostly in the background. First we must consider how to address relevant non-DDA issues that already are - or could become - part of our regular work and that could be addressed at MC8. Second, we must also, in a frank and open-minded way, discuss how we intend to proceed in the period between MC8 and MC9, both for regular WTO work and for the DDA single undertaking. We must find ways to ensure that we (i) don't throw away the progress achieved over a decade of negotiations; and (ii) prepare the playing field for future progress in and conclusion of the single undertaking when political circumstances so permit."
 
"We must use the summer break to reflect on these issues, consult with our capitals, and talk to each other so that, when we resume work in September, we are in a position to engage fully, meaningfully, and objectively in the preparations for the Ministerial Conference," Brazil concluded.
 
Barbados, on behalf of the Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), said that it is evident that many difficulties remain. There is need to continue to keep development at the forefront of all discussions at MC8. It is hopeful that members will be able to get some development-oriented deliverables, but members also need to remember that they should de-link the WTO from the DDA. There are other issues that need to be examined.
 
Australia, on behalf of the Cairns Group, said it is deeply concerned about the state of play of the Doha Round, and that despite the recent intensification of the work, the agriculture negotiations have not been able to progress recently. There is however a lot that has been achieved in the course of these negotiations and it is important that the entire package be completed. Without agriculture, members are not adequately addressing the development dimension.
 
Chinese Taipei, on behalf of the Recently Acceded Members (RAMs), said that it remained committed to the successful conclusion of the DDA. It would like to participate in all areas and it endorsed the two-track approach.
 
Japan said that it regretted that members have not been able to see much real progress or convergence on the LDC package. It said that it may become painfully aware of the lack of any deliverables for MC8. Members should focus most of their efforts on non-DDA issues and the post-Ministerial agenda.
 
India (represented by Ambassador Jayant Dasgupta) said that after the intensive discussions since end May, "we collectively realize that it would not be possible to have an LDC plus package in time for the 8th Ministerial. However, we should not get disheartened by this fact. The LDC plus package was only meant to be an ambitious intermediate step in our path towards reaching our ultimate objective, that is the completion of the Doha Round. It was also meant to send a message to the outside world that despite the adverse circumstances still plaguing the global economy, the WTO was going about its work earnestly and was still delivering."
 
India added: "We have not succeeded in this ambitious step. However, it is still very much open to us to take a shorter but very significant step, namely the delivery of the LDC only package by December. The LDC package would indeed provide a strong affirmation of the credibility of the WTO and its commitment to the cause of development of the poorest countries. Be that as it may, we all agree that the WTO and the Doha Round are not synonymous."
 
"The WTO encompasses far more than the Round. It has a set of detailed multilaterally negotiated rules, including a unique dispute settlement system, which have withstood the onslaught of the recessionary storm of the past three years like a rock and have not allowed the unruly waves of protectionism to sweep over the landscape of global trade. We have no doubt that in keeping with its history of more than six decades, the WTO will deliver once again on the Doha Round. The question is about the timing. We have to choose an appropriate time in future and intensify our efforts then so that we can steer the Doha ship home, safe and dry. Obviously, we would have to agree on a Work Programme for the Doha Round by the December Ministerial, which Mr. Chairman, you have already stated you would be taking up more intensively in September," said India.
 
Meanwhile, India noted, "we cannot remain oblivious to the other important non-DDA issues that have not received the attention due to them so far, because of our collective efforts to focus all our energies on the Doha agenda. This has to change. We would now have time to undo this damage to the system and put the WTO back on an even keel. In choosing the non-DDA items, we need to keep our focus on the development aspect of trade, specially the implementation issues, which had received considerable attention at Cancun but have not been pursued vigorously since then."
 
India also said that it would like to share the sense of urgency, expressed by many members earlier today, of preparing adequately for the 8th Ministerial. "Nothing should detract from this effort, specially since we have just about six to eight weeks available on a realistic basis after the summer break."
 
The United States said that when this body first discussed the idea of a so-called "Early Harvest" or "small package" back in May, it expressed its commitment to explore all options, including issues of particular interest to LDCs.
 
"Certainly it is easy to understand the impatience felt by LDCs as they look at the glacial pace of this institution in addressing key issues. Though all of us see the Round from our unique, national perspectives - no one can be happy with the pace of our work. Despite our impatience, the United States has been transparent from the beginning of this discussion concerning the difficulties we saw in pulling together an Early Harvest package. We pointed out that to achieve a result, we would need to overcome the challenges of reaching consensus on the particular elements to be included in the package, then come to substantive closure on those elements - all in the limited time remaining before December."
 
The United States said it has also been very clear that the only way a small package would come together was for all major players to be ready to make meaningful contributions. "This was important for a number of reasons, including the hope, shared by us and others, that a December package could have demonstrated our collective ability to grapple with difficult issues as part of the broader effort to break the stalemate over Doha. Since that time we and others have spared no effort in exploring issues and working to see if we could weave a small Doha package together. Despite these efforts, it has become clear to us and to many others that a so-called Early Harvest package is not happening and is not going to happen. This is not the conclusion that any of us wanted, but the facts are inescapable."
 
The US added: "As we feared, participants have proven much more comfortable in talking about what others can give than in talking about what they can contribute themselves. With almost perfect asymmetry, our discussions have foundered against redlines and cross-conditionalities involving a broad range of Members. This proved to be the case both for the ‘LDC issues' and the so-called ‘plus' issues. It has been suggested that the LDC issues would be simpler than the others because we would merely be implementing decisions already made by Ministers. However, the fact of the matter is that reaching consensus required that we move well beyond the guidance provided by Ministers, and Members could not come to a common view on how to do that."
 
"I understand instinctively the temptation to say ‘let's keep trying'. We would certainly be ready to do that if we saw some prospect that entrenched positions would change - but we do not. And continuing our efforts for an Early Harvest without prospect of success comes at a significant cost, crowding out essential work on preparations for the ministerial. There is a widely shared view that an absolutely essential element of MC8 will be a discussion of where we go from here on Doha. We urgently need to work together and to engage in that discussion... We will need virtually all the time that remains between now and MC8 to do this work. That said, we do not see a binary choice between work on MC8 on the one hand, and work on development on the other. We do not believe that we will succeed by continuing our current discussions of an Early Harvest package built on the elements we've been considering, but we are certainly open to a creative discussion of development issues," said the US.
 
South Africa (represented by Ambassador Faizel Ismail) said that at the last TNC it had urged members not to seek any concessions and trade-offs for a package for the poorest countries. "And as we had warned, the discussion on an ‘LDC plus' package has gotten us all into a spaghetti bowl of trade-offs and concessions required by different members that has little chance of being unravelled in the short time available to us."
 
South Africa said that it agreed with others that have declared that this "LDC Plus" package is not doable by December and that attempting to pursue this further would be an unproductive use of time. In addition, the pursuit of an "LDC Plus" package has been a distraction from the concerns and interests of the LDCs. The poorest developing countries, especially the LDCs, have waited too long for members to deliver on the promises made at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005 and the failure of the round to conclude has not been due to their missteps.
 
"A down payment for development is just what the WTO needs to provide it with the credibility to restore its legitimacy and to build confidence amongst the majority of its members and the world. The crucial question now is whether we have the political will to deliver a package to the LDCs by December. However, if we cannot deliver an ‘LDC only' package by December, let us not prolong the debate and raise the expectations of the LDCs. Let us rather focus on how we can still save the credibility of the institution and focus on the needs and interests of the poorest developing countries at MC8. Let us discuss how we can at least make the WTO more development friendly at MC8."
 
South Africa added: "At MC8 we will need to discuss how it is we have come to this juncture? How is it that the world cannot even deliver on the promises made at Hong Kong in 2005 to deliver Duty Free Quota Free Market Access to LDCs and to remove the trade distorting subsidies that destroy jobs in cotton farms in poor African countries? At MC8, we will need to discuss how is it that the Doha Development Agenda, the first round that has sought at the outset to address the inequities in the trading system, cannot be concluded after 10 years? We will need to discuss how is it that the first round that has promised to create a fairer and more development friendly WTO has made almost no progress for more than three years now?"
 
"It is only with some deep reflection amongst members and the public at large that we can hope to begin to understand the underlying causes of the current impasse in the Doha Round," stressed South Africa.
 
China (represented by Ambassador Yi Xiaozhun) said that since the last informal TNC meeting, the focus has remained on efforts to work out a small package by December. "It is worth recalling the value of having a December Package: Although the Doha Round is not going to conclude this year as all of us have hoped for, a small package by December would maintain the Round alive and keep the ball of single-undertaking rolling. Moreover, if MC8 has nothing to deliver on Doha, not even on the needs of the LDCs, the credibility of the WTO will be jeopardized."
 
China added: "In order to help LDCs to work out a December Package, we have been constructively engaged in the intensive discussions since May. However, there is growing evidence after two months that a LDC Package is not doable if we put any ‘plus' on it. The intention of various members to put in their own demands keeps the Plus growing every day, which would finally kill the core package that the LDCs really need. So, we must make a quick and simple decision either we should collectively work out a LDC Only Package or we could have no package. That's the difficult and painful reality we have to face."
 
China said it strongly believes that MC8 in December and the WTO as a whole should address LDC's concerns. "The reasons are simple and straightforward. No. 1, developmental needs of the LDCs are most pressing and therefore should be tackled with priority and urgency. No. 2, commitments were already made in favour of the LDCs long before at MC6 in Hong Kong. It is about time to implement them without further delay."
 
China declared that, with or without a LDC Package in December, it will honour its commitment in Hong Kong to raise the level of "Duty-Free, Quota-Free" for LDCs' products from the current level of 60% to 95%.
 
"If there is a collective judgment that even an LDC Only Package is beyond our reach, we need to start discussing what else we can do at MC8 for the LDCs so that the Doha can live up to its title of a Development Round... The clock is ticking and we have no time to lose. We need to focus our attention and resources to work on some credible deliverables from MC8," said China. +

 


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