TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec12/03)
19 December 2012
Third World Network

"Very little appetite" for resuming Rules talks, says Chair
Published in SUNS #7469 dated 31 October 2012

Geneva, 30 Oct (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules has reported that based on his consultations, he has detected "very little appetite" for resuming the negotiations in the Group.

At an informal meeting of the Negotiating Group late last week, the Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, further said that some delegations had warned that resuming the negotiations could harm the overall prospects.

According to trade officials, the Chair told the informal meeting that the prevailing view is that the Rules negotiations cannot proceed unless there is a change of shift in the underlying dynamics in the Doha Round.

Some delegations have suggested that the Group could perhaps undertake some form of technical discussions, possibly on fisheries subsidies, Ambassador McCook added.

(The Rules negotiations encompass the issues of anti-dumping, general subsidies, fisheries subsidies and regional trade agreements.)

According to trade officials, Japan underscored the importance of the Rules negotiations, especially the issue of anti-dumping, in the overall balance of the Doha Round.

It said that the "Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations" (FANs) have submitted more than 100 proposals to the Negotiating Group. It however acknowledged that the Rules negotiations can only be approached in a spirit of "realism and pragmatism".

According to trade officials, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Thailand, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Israel, Singapore and Brazil expressed support for Japan.

(According to information posted on the WTO website, the members of the Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong-China, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Turkey.)

New Zealand, on behalf of the "Friends of Fish" (Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru and the United States) said that with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reporting that 30% of the world's fish stock is now over-exploited, the urgency of an agreement on fisheries subsidies is not diminishing.

New Zealand said that the Friends of Fish see an ambitious result in this area as a key outcome of the Doha Round, highlighting the Rio+20 Declaration calling for progress in the fisheries subsidies negotiations in the Doha Round.

It called on members to submit fisheries subsidies programmes as part of their regular WTO subsidy notifications.

Ecuador voiced support for the statement of the Friends of Fish group.

According to trade officials, China said that it shared the sense of urgency on fisheries, adding that the WTO should shoulder its responsibility in this area.

Cuba said that the Anti-Dumping Agreement is the WTO agreement with the least number of special and differential treatment (S&D) provisions for developing countries.

Cuba would table a proposal with Ecuador to make S&D operational in anti-dumping.

According to trade officials, Cuba was supported by Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and South Africa.

At the end of the informal meeting, the Chair said that he would reflect on the discussion in the Group, and also follow closely developments in other areas of the Doha Round.

Ambassador McCook took note of the suggestions made for technical work, and urged delegations with proposals to discuss them with other members.

The Chair said that he has no date in mind for a future meeting of the Group, adding that the Group would observe the same "bottom-up" principle - that re-engaging on substance can only be on the basis of a determination made by members. +