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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June12/03)
15 June 2012
Third World Network

General Council takes up global value chains, Lamy's panel
Published in SUNS #7362 dated 3 May 2012

Geneva, 2 May (Kanaga Raja) - The issues of "global value chains" and the WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy's consultative panel of stakeholders on 21st century global trade issues figured at the meeting of the General Council on 1 May, with several key developing countries expressing reservations about the panel, making clear that the panel and its outcome would be on the Director-General's own responsibility.

The future course of the Doha Development Round, they made clear, would be a path charted by the members.

The WTO Director-General, Mr. Pascal Lamy, had announced the constitution of the panel on 13 April, and the panellists have been asked to examine and analyse challenges to global trade opening in the 21st century (see SUNS #7351 dated 17 April 2012).

The General Council had earlier heard a report from Lamy, in his capacity as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), that said amongst others that the situation had not evolved much since his last report in February (see below).

In its statement at the General Council, India said that overall, the panel appears to lack balance and leaves out several important sections of the WTO stakeholders from its purview. It also drew attention to the Leutwiler Report of March 1985, and said its seven-member group of eminent persons had been constituted by the then GATT Director-General, and that its expenses were funded by various businesses, foundations and organizations. It was not an official GATT publication, but one made possible by the contributions of sponsors. The report itself was never adopted as a GATT document.

South Africa underscored the Director-General's reassurance that the "stakeholders panel" would be under his responsibility, and said that the future course for the Doha Development Round will be a path charted by members.

Brazil also said that it was glad that the Director-General had made clear that the findings and conclusions of the (multi-stakeholder) panel will not reflect the views of the membership.

On the Doha trade negotiations, trade officials pointed to issues that are prominent and feasible, the so-called "low hanging fruit" where agreements can be reached, namely, the Least Developed Country (LDC) issues that were decided at the December Ministerial Conference (MC8) and that pertain to streamlining accession procedures for LDCs, an LDC waiver from services commitments, and extending the transition period vis-a-vis the TRIPS Agreement.

They noted that these issues need to be implemented, adding that members are of the view that this could be achieved this year. In addition to that, trade officials said, a number of members said that the issue of trade facilitation needs to be focused on and that work be stepped up on this.

Trade officials also pointed to the notion of global value chains, which was a major topic of discussion at the recent G20 trade ministers' meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This issue was taken up to a large extent at the General Council meeting Tuesday, they added.

On the issue of global value chains, trade officials said that some members pointed out that there are specific sectors and industries that are not part of a global value chain, and that there are some countries that do not participate to a large extent in these value chains. Thus, there needs to be an assessment done of these value chains and what they mean for development.

According to trade officials, while no one spoke out against the LDC issues and on trade facilitation, a number of countries raised concerns on the resource constraints that developing countries, in particular the LDCs, would have in implementing any agreements.

On Lamy's stakeholders' panel, according to trade officials, some members were of the view that the WTO is a member-driven organisation and that any outcome of the panel's work must be under the Director-General's own responsibility.

At the General Council meeting, both India and South Africa pointed to a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Trade Ministers' statement that was issued at Puerto Vallarta.

[In their statement on 19 April issued at Puerto Vallarta, the BRICS Trade Ministers had said that the BRICS countries take note of the increasing role of global value chains in trade. They note that many sectors, industries and even countries are not participating in global value chains as fully as some others. In order for global value chains to serve as instruments of growth and development, it would be important to develop a deeper understanding of their developmental impact and the conditions under which they can be used to achieve long term socio-economic gains. In addition, attention should be paid to not impose obstacles for the development and effective functioning of global value chains, for protectionist reasons. In this context, it would be useful to have a member-driven process, in the WTO, UNCTAD and other intergovernmental agencies, to examine this issue, including the identification of more accurate statistical methods to assess value addition.

[According to the BRICS statement, the services sector plays an important role in economic growth and development. Nevertheless, experiences of many countries have shown that in order to benefit from liberalization of services and avoid unintended consequences of premature liberalization, opening services markets should be correctly sequenced, progressive and commensurate with a country's level of development, strength in particular sectors and regulatory capacity. All countries, particularly developing ones, should be able to benefit from balanced and equitable services liberalisation, by gaining additional market access opportunities in sectors and modes of supply where they have a competitive edge.

["Trade Facilitation can have a dynamic effect on competitiveness and economic integration. However, the costs of implementing trade facilitation measures can be a significant challenge for many developing countries, which have to be met through adequate financial and technical assistance. Due attention has also to be paid simultaneously to the development of export-related infrastructure, especially in LDCs, to obtain a win-win result," said the BRICS Trade Ministers.

[Trade, they added, can create growth opportunities and trade reforms can reinforce an effective development strategy, but trade openness by itself is not sufficient to ensure growth, development and social inclusiveness. Other complementary policies are needed for this purpose such as sound macroeconomic management, efficient trade institutions, investments in human capital and infrastructure, adjustment support, and the rule of law. A level playing field, that addresses the current inequities in global trade, is also essential. In particular, trade rules and market opening should apply to all economic sectors, including agriculture, while incorporating special flexibilities and "policy space" for developing countries.

["Bearing in mind the positive role that trade can play in boosting and sustaining global demand, fostering job creation and increasing the potential for growth and development, we emphasize the need to resist protectionism in all its forms and to promote international trade, while respecting the WTO consistent policy space available to developing countries to pursue their legitimate objectives of growth, development and stability," said the BRICS Trade Ministers.

["We urge our fellow G20 Trade Ministers to strengthen coordination in promoting a concerted response to current economic uncertainties. ‘Win-win' trade policies will be central to global recovery. We, therefore, call upon our fellow G-20 Trade Ministers to identify ways to improve the multilateral trading system so that all economies may pursue a sustainable and ‘development-friendly' integration in global trade, including adjustment strategies for their industries and workforce, as well as the appropriate social and sectoral policies to respond to existing structural vulnerabilities. The conclusion of the Doha Development Round would be a significant step in this direction," they concluded.]

In his report at the General Council meeting, in his capacity as Chair of the TNC, Lamy said that at the February General Council, "we agreed that the task before us was to implement decisions and to operationalize the elements for political guidance resulting from MC8 in a pragmatic and realistic manner. The most realistic and practical way forward was to take small steps, gradually moving forward the parts of the Doha Round which were mature, and re-thinking those where greater differences remained. I encouraged all Chairs to informally consult on this basis. Trade Facilitation and Dispute Settlement were exceptions. In these areas, Members had agreed on detailed work plans which they had already started implementing."

Reporting on international meetings in which he had recently participated, starting with the Spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington and the meeting of G-20 Trade Ministers in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Lamy said that at both of these meetings, he cautioned that world trade was growing much slower than in the past - with a trade forecast for this year at around 4 per cent growth in volume, compared to an average of 6 per cent in the past 15 years and 5 per cent last year.

"So, a clear deceleration. This 2012 forecast is mostly a consequence of sluggish growth in advanced economies particularly in the Eurozone. The contribution of trade to growth in emerging and developing countries is also decreasing and is forecast to further decline. I warned that the prevailing deteriorating situation could get worse if trade protectionism increased. So far, as you know, although protectionist pressures have been reasonably contained, recent worrying slippages in the form of trade restrictive measures have been registered and we will publish this on the occasion of our next monitoring report. So, we have to continue and help you all in redoubling vigilance on this front."

At the recent G-20 Trade Ministerial in Puerto Vallarta, Lamy said, the discussion focused on global value chains and the impact that this new pattern of trade has on trade policies and trade politics. "There was a shared sense that global value chains today require a new trade narrative, where imports matter as much as exports; where both imports and exports contribute to job creation and to growth. Trade as the expression of value addition along global production chains, requires us to take a fresh look at the way we measure trade."

Lamy added: "It also requires that we reflect about the value of interpreting as we have done traditionally, bilateral trade balances which in this new pattern become much less relevant at least for policy and action. The discussion focused on the systemic conditions under which global value chains can work better, including the importance of trade facilitation measures, the blurring frontier between goods and services and adequate and affordable trade finance. I stressed, and I re-stress today, that this is not about ‘new issues' versus ‘old issues' or a new selection of priorities. It is about how to ensure that global value chains, whether on industrial products, on agriculture or on services are oiled through the proper trade policies."

According to Lamy, Ministers expressed a strong encouragement for the WTO to keep cooperating with other organisations such as the OECD and UNCTAD to better understand the functioning and trade policy implications of global value chains. "There was also support to give fresh impetus to the Doha negotiations towards results in areas with potential for prompt resolution - such as trade facilitation - while intensifying efforts to find creative ways and approaches to overcome the most critical and fundamental stalemates in specially challenging areas."

On trade facilitation, the TNC Chair said there was a collective acknowledgement of its win-win potential for all Members, with work here in Geneva moving forward and of course provided technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries and in particular the least-developed countries is adequately provided.

On UNCTAD XIII that he had attended in Doha, Qatar last week, Lamy said that at this meeting, "I emphasized much of the same points, stressing the importance of Aid for Trade to assist developing countries, and in particular the poorest, participate in global value chains and moving into value addition. I also cautioned that the current fiscal difficulties in donor countries should not lead to a drying up of support for Aid for Trade, which so far has not happened as the first numbers for 2010, which we now have, show."

He also spoke of his continued coordination meetings with Chairs of Negotiating Bodies, and with the General Council Chair and his meetings individually with a number of delegations. Lamy also highlighted activities in the negotiating groups since the 14 February General Council meeting.

"Clearly, overall the situation has not evolved much since my last report. But at the same time, my conversations over the past few weeks with Ministers and delegations have provided me with a sense that Members wish to continue to explore any opportunities to gain the necessary traction and try to make tangible progress as soon as possible."

Lamy also recalled that at the February General Council, he had announced, as he had done at MC8, his intention to convene a "WTO Panel on Defining the Future of Trade" in order to analyse the drivers of today's and tomorrow's world trade, to take a fresh look at trade patterns and what it means to open global trade in this 21st century, bearing in mind the role of trade in contributing to sustainable development, growth, jobs and poverty alleviation.

"I also repeated that this panel is under my responsibility... Its first meeting will be here in Geneva on 16 May. In the autumn, it will have an opportunity to hear the views of Members, a crucial step in ensuring that its findings are relevant to today's realities. The expectation is that the panel's analysis will be finalized in early 2013."

A number of delegations spoke following Lamy's report.

According to trade officials, Mexico, referring to the recent G20 trade ministers' meeting, mentioned that one of the issues that was taken up was global value chains. It will change the way that members will look at trade, and that an analysis of this will give a better understanding of how trade works today. The majority of world trade in goods and services is of an intermediate variety, and the mercantilist view tends to give value to exports but there is need for an appreciation of the importance of imports as well, particularly in these value chains. There is need to keep markets open and a recognition that trade facilitation is one of the most important actions that can be undertaken and where progress needs to be made here in Geneva, said Mexico.

Lesotho, on behalf of the African Group, stressed the call from the Group to adhere to multilateral principles. It was a cornerstone on which developing countries are able to participate meaningfully in international trade negotiations. This is an approach that must be maintained, Lesotho said, noting that there has been some progress in some areas based on decisions taken at MC8. There has been an open and far-reaching discussion on LDC accession, but there is need for more action and a greater willingness to consider the LDC concerns.

There has been less progress on the LDC services waiver, and members, in particular the industrialised countries, need to be more aware of the need for special and differential treatment (SDT) with respect to LDCs, said Lesotho, adding that it would like to see more focused work in the Committee on Trade and Development. It is important that this committee be given the authority to deal with a wide range of issues that are affecting developing countries today.

There is also need to ensure that development remains the key core element for the WTO's future work programme, it said, adding that it would like to see the resources at the WTO's Global Trust Fund enhanced. This needs to happen so that developing countries can benefit more fully from technical assistance and capacity building. It is very important to consider the fact that the weaker players in the global services market, especially African countries, do not want to be cut off from international services markets, and this is what would happen if a non-most-favoured-nation services agreement is reached in the WTO.

The African Group noted that one of the ideas being floated in the NAMA (non-agricultural market access) negotiations is the request-offer approach, saying that whichever way members go forward, it is important to have a process that is transparent and inclusive.

Cambodia, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that it supported the need for the Doha negotiations to move forward and to find areas for progress and convergence. It is important to adhere to the development mandate and there is need to explore different negotiating options. It is also important to benefit all members and that the multilateral trading system be strengthened. In looking at areas where progress can be made, Cambodia mentioned trade facilitation, an LDC services waiver, and streamlining LDC accession procedures.

Kenya, in supporting Lesotho, said that it is concerned by the fact that in the nearly half a year that has passed since MC8, there has been very little tangible progress that members can point to. There is need to ensure that progress is made and that low-hanging fruit is targeted. It sees the LDC issues as being the most likely to bear fruit. There is need to take smaller steps and to ensure a bottom-up approach that is transparent and inclusive, as well as the need to see that SDT is applied and that the role of the Committee on Trade and Development is strengthened.

On the areas for early harvest, Kenya pointed to the LDC issues, agriculture, trade facilitation, services and development issues, saying that there is need to try and push for provisional or early agreements in these areas.

India, referring to the G20 Trade Ministers' meeting at Puerto Vallarta, said that a statement was issued there by the BRICS Trade Ministers on 19 April.

The discussions in Mexico, India said, had helped in underscoring the well established fact that global value chains do not cover the entire gamut of global trade. They neither cover all sectors, nor all industries within the same country, and several countries are indeed excluded from value chains in large measure. Developing countries in particular are at a disadvantage with their low levels of skill and technological development, generally ending up at the lower end of such value chains supplying basic raw materials or cheap labour.

India said it had pointed out that it would be useful first and foremost to evolve a better understanding of the developmental impact of global value chains and the conditions under which they can be used to achieve long term socio-economic gains for all countries, especially the developing and least developed countries. In this context, it was suggested that a member-driven process in the WTO, UNCTAD and other intergovernmental agencies, would be helpful in examining this issue.

With regard to the call for liberalization in services, India said it was underlined that opening up of the services markets had to be correctly sequenced, corresponding to a country's level of development, its strength in particular sectors and regulatory capacity. All countries, particularly developing ones, should be able to benefit from balanced and equitable services liberalisation, by gaining additional market access opportunities in sectors and modes of supply where they have a competitive edge.

On trade facilitation, India said it had reiterated its stand at the G20 meeting that while it can have a dynamic effect on competitiveness and economic integration, the costs of implementing trade facilitation measures can be a huge challenge for many developing countries, which have to be met through firm prior commitments for financial and technical assistance from developed countries. Due attention also has to be paid simultaneously to the development of export-related infrastructure, including transit infrastructure, especially in LDCs, to obtain a win-win result.

"Trade Facilitation has to be viewed in the overall context of the delicate balance of trade-offs negotiated during the Doha Round. It cannot be viewed in isolation as it is a part of a full package and must form part of the single undertaking. There has to be both an internal as well as external balance to ensure that the negotiations on issues of interest to developing countries, and especially LDCs, like the LDC package (DFQF [Duty Free Quota Free market access], Cotton and Fleshing out of the Waiver on Services), Export Competition in Agriculture, which is a done deal waiting to be implemented, S&D Monitoring Mechanism, the 28 Agreement Specific Proposals etc. are given equal priority and concluded simultaneously," said India.

The other message that came out of the Puerto Vallarta meeting was that trade must be viewed in the broader context of development gains it generates, and not merely as a source of global growth. "Our delegation believes that while trade can create growth opportunities, trade openness by itself would not lead to growth, development and social inclusiveness or employment in a particular country. Other complementary policies and an enabling environment are necessary for this purpose. A level playing field addressing the current inequities in global trade would also be required to be addressed so that developing countries can take advantage of the opportunities created."

India said it continues to underline the importance of concluding the Doha Development Round to restore the credibility of the multilateral trading system. While members may seek results in specific areas where progress is possible, such efforts must not lose sight of the centrality of development in the Doha mandate.

"Being the first and only development round so far, we all have a high stake in its early and balanced conclusion as a means of demonstrating WTO's commitment and credibility. It would also not be appropriate to cherry pick topics of interest from within the areas covered under the DDA without adhering to the principle of single undertaking."

On the Director-General's panel of WTO Stakeholders to identify 21st Century Trade Challenges, India said that since the panel has been constituted under his own responsibility by the Director-General, "we do not wish to make any substantive comments on it at this stage."

"While some of the persons named on the panel are well known persons in their own fields and it is not our intention to level any criticism aimed at an individual, we would like to mention that overall the panel appears to lack balance and leaves out several important sections of the WTO stakeholders from its purview."

Just to mention a few of these stakeholders, said India, while the panel has a number of representatives of large corporations from different countries, it does not have an adequate number of representatives of the SME (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) sector, or representatives who are experts in the field of trade and development or from the civil society.

"Furthermore, the WTO is a member driven organisation and a report of a panel constituted by the DG, can be construed as a WTO report, only after it has been accepted by consensus by the members."

In this context, India said its attention has been drawn to the Leutwiler Report of March 1985, which had its origins in November 1983, when the DG, GATT had constituted a panel of 7 eminent persons, led by Dr. Fritz Leutwiler.

India said: "We also note that the expenses of the group's meeting were met by the Ford Foundation, the Foreign Trade Association, Cologne, the Japan Institute of Foreign Affairs, the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Ford Motor Company, the Xerox Foundation and a few other organisations. The Leutwiler Report is not an official GATT publication and its first edition was made possible by the financial contribution of a number of sponsors. To the best of our knowledge, the Leutwiler Report was never adopted by the members as a GATT document."

"... I would like to state that the WTO is poised at a very difficult stage in its short history of 17 years. At this juncture, the foremost need is to build trust and confidence among the WTO members, so that all of us can move forward on the path of growth and development," India stressed.

According to trade officials, South Africa, with respect to the panel of stakeholders, said that it would like to recall the objectives and terms of reference of the panel, and the selection of members to the panel. It said it would like to thank the Director-General for his reassurance that this would be under his responsibility, but the future course for the Doha Development Round will be a path charted by members.

It noted that the BRICS issued a statement at Puerto Vallarta, and said that global value chains can be important, but the question is how can the WTO and the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) advance the interests of developing countries in these global value chains, and how will these advances help development, trade and poverty alleviation. It can be a tool for industrial and economic development, but it needs to be looked at in its totality.

South Africa said that trade opening should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all policy. If the objectives are to enhance the efficiency of global value chains without respect for development outcomes, then this is not something that South Africa would endorse.

It further said that at the moment, with the situation of job creation being rather grim in many parts of the world, it is going to be very difficult to try and get countries that have experienced intense job losses to support further trade opening. So, the way to consider this is to focus on selected opening with accompanying social policies. According to recent reports, Europe will not see job creation in any meaningful way until 2016.

It is important obviously for the WTO to look at issues that are coming up in the future, such as trade opening and reducing carbon emissions. For South Africa specifically, the question of food security is key, but the old issues have not gone away. These must be addressed before the so-called 21st century issues are dealt with. For South Africa and Africa, this means agriculture - specifically trade-distorting subsidies from rich countries continue to be very problematic.

Japan said that it would like to see the ITA (Information Technology Agreement) expanded and it supports a deal in trade facilitation as well as agreement on LDC accession. It is concerned with rising protectionism, and the monitoring mechanism on following trade-restrictive measures needs to be strengthened. The importance of the Dispute Settlement mechanism is also increasing and rules that would make the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) more effective would be welcomed as well.

It welcomed the Director-General's panel for identifying future obstacles to trade and that it had high expectations from this panel.

The European Union said that most of the focus of the first four months of 2012 have been on small steps. While progress is being made and guidelines are being formed, the progress has been too slow. There is need to focus on the parts of the DDA where progress is feasible and to deliver in those areas that are most important to the most vulnerable members. The members should engage constructively on issues such as SDT and the 28 Agreement-specific proposals, and the monitoring mechanism (for SDT). There is need as well for improving the DSU. There has been encouraging progress made in this area in recent months.

As to trade facilitation, the discussions are moving forward at a technical level, it said, adding that it wants to build on the good work that has been done under the guidance of the Chair. There is no doubting the win-win nature of this and of its development potential. The G20 recognised the importance of this but also that there needs to be some contributions to developing countries especially the LDCs on their capacity to implement an agreement.

More can also be done on non-tariff barriers (NTBs). There is need to go beyond the technical work and begin to find ways where agreement will be possible, it said, adding that it would also like to expand the ITA to include NTBs as well as tariff reductions.

Brazil said that it was glad that the Director-General had made clear that the findings and conclusions of the (multi-stakeholder) panel will not reflect the views of the membership. On global value chains, it recognised the need for these value chains. It is important to have access to this but it needs to be seen where the value added rests. Is it simply a case of benefiting multinational corporations largely, it asked.

Brazil is ready to support initiatives aimed at studying the impact of global value chains and this must be produced in a member-driven context with WTO and UNCTAD. Claims that global value chains build a new narrative on trade may or may not be true, but it is important to understand that the DDA is an old narrative and agriculture is part of this old narrative and it is important to Brazil and all developing countries that there must be a way to energise the old issues as well as new issues.

Saudi Arabia expressed regret for the delay in concluding the DDA. In terms of economic growth and job creation, this agreement will be very important and members should allow economic concerns to drive the debate rather than political considerations.

The United States said that it agreed with the Director-General in that small steps and pragmatism are important. One of the reasons that MC8 was important is honesty and the second reason was the call for different approaches. With the paint not even being dry on the Ministerial Conference (last December) decisions, it is troubling to see people reverting to some past practices. The importance of trade facilitation and services were discussed at the G20 and this should help to give some momentum to the discussions in Geneva.

In terms of follow up to Puerto Vallarta, the US said that it needs to be seen if talk can be translated into action. Blocking is always easier than engaging and already the US is hearing the issue of linkages being raised, it said. It would like to see the ITA being taken up.

China said that as the Director-General mentioned, the recent trade statistics and forecast are not encouraging. The macro economic situation is not encouraging, either. "In the context of an international crisis in which protectionism is a strong temptation, it is crucial that the Doha Round should be concluded as quickly as possible."

Although it had been recognized that this is not likely to happen this year, China said it is encouraging that Ministers at MC8 still made decisions on seven important issues as well as provide political guidance on the importance of the multilateral trading system, trade and development and the DDA.

"They instructed us to keep the ball rolling, make advances where possible and get better prepared for a full-fledged engagement once the time is ripe again. We should spare no efforts to implement Ministers' instructions so as to live up to their expectations."

In so doing, said China, "we should place the concerns of developing members, especially LDCs, high on the agenda. LDCs are the poorest among us. Both developed members and other developing members have the moral obligation to help them reap more benefits from trade liberalization."

To this end, China added, the seven areas where Ministers made decisions at MC8 already encompass LDCs' services waiver, LDCs' accession and the extension of their transition period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement. "What remains to be done is to double our efforts to complete the work on LDCs' accession by July this year as well as on substantiating the LDCs' services waiver."

Regarding Doha as a whole, China noted that "Ministers instructed us to take a pragmatic approach and try, as a step to conclude the single-undertaking, to build consensus around Paragraph 47. China reiterates its openness to topics to be chosen, including on which it might have difficulties. That being said, China stresses again its support to give priority to LDC issues."

According to trade officials, Argentina said it shared some of the concerns about the stakeholders' panel, and said it will wait till autumn to hear what the panellists have to say. The G20 has an important role to play in policy coordination but there is need to be careful about transferring any discussions there to the WTO because the G20 is only a subset of the wider WTO membership. It pointed to a bottom-up approach and that the process should be transparent and inclusive.

Mauritius, on behalf of the ACP Group, said that the G20 meeting would have benefited more had there been more ministers from the small vulnerable economies there. It agrees to taking a step-by-step approach and focusing on those areas where agreement can be reached. It mentioned the fact that a member had spoken of linkages. It is true that members are no longer operating under the broader framework of a singe undertaking but it would be naive to assume that there are no linkages at all.

"We cannot allow cherry-picking and think that members will endorse this approach, " said Mauritius, adding that without linkages to development, many members will say is it even worth it. Among those areas where there could be some kind of progress would be the LDC issue of accession. It also wanted to see progress made on the LDC services waiver and on the 28 Agreement-specific proposals, as well as the role of the Committee on Trade and Development being enhanced.

On trade facilitation, Mauritius said that the ACP is agreeable to negotiations and is engaged in this. It is not making linkages in trade facilitation but there are a number of issues on the table that require attention. These include the problem of legal configuration in which commitments are made by members even though the mandate says specifically that you should only schedule those commitments that you are capable of implementing. That means that there needs to be some understanding of the limits that countries may have in terms of their ability to put in place these new commitments.

Along these same lines, there needs to be a matching between needs and requirements on the one hand and resources on the other, said Mauritius. There needs to be some kind of a way of monitoring needs and requirements with resources, it added.

Australia said that what Mauritius said was very interesting because it is clear that the ACP Group are keen to find solutions to existing problems. There is need to move faster on the LDC accession issue and to get the issue of benchmarks for goods and services resolved.

On trade facilitation, it said that some of the comments from Mauritius were very interesting. "We need to be prepared to listen, rather than just lecture," said Australia (speaking of the developed countries), adding perhaps "we have not been listening as well as we could and that might help us move forward on the trade negotiations if we were to do so."

Australia said that there is need to focus on those areas that seem to be intractable - principally the market access issues. For Australia, this is particularly the case with agriculture. There is need to see other countries engaging.

Singapore said participating in global value chains was extremely important. The global value chains are not a North-South phenomenon and that there is healthy South-South trade in this regard as well. The new narrative that is being talked about is not one that would displace or sideline any work that is being done at the WTO.

Haiti said that it agrees that trade facilitation can be a win-win proposal as long as there is a clear commitment to provide technical assistance and capacity building.

Chinese Taipei said that there is need to look for issues that can be resolved. It is concerned about the existing global economic climate. Global value chains are key and in Chinese Taipei one can see small and medium sized enterprises participating regularly in these.

 


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