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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May13/03)
7 May 2013
Third World Network  

Concerns over lack of progress on potential Bali deliverables
Published in SUNS #7566 dated  16 April 2013
 
Geneva, 15 Apr (Kanaga Raja) -- Member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed last week that at the moment they are not on track for success at the ninth ministerial conference in Bali this December and that divergences, some quite vast, remained among members, with disagreements centering over the levels of ambition and what was meant by "balance".
 
These variegated views were voiced last week at an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee, following on the statement of the WTO Director-General and TNC Chair, Mr. Pascal Lamy, who reported on "limited progress" on substance on potential deliverables in Trade Facilitation (TF), agriculture, and special and differential treatment (S&D) and Least Developed Country (LDC) issues.
 
Lamy had warned in his opening statement that "the stark reality" was that the current pace of work was largely insufficient to deliver successfully in Bali, and that without rapid acceleration and real negotiations, "it is highly probable that you will not see the deliverables you desire in Bali." (See SUNS #7564 dated 12 April 2013.)
 
According to trade officials, fears were expressed that the technical work required to conclude the negotiations on Trade Facilitation (TF), agriculture and the development issues is quite significant and that time is rapidly running out. Concerns were also voiced by some members about the process post-Bali.
 
At the informal meeting on 11 April, developing countries again highlighted several issues of importance to them which they felt should form part of the Bali package. These include Duty Free Quota Free market access for LDC products (DFQF), which they said is not a negotiating issue but one of implementation, as well as cotton. Some also stressed the importance of food security and the need for a deliverable on this issue.
 
Some developing countries pointed out that on trade facilitation, some of the major players are demanding high levels of ambition and binding commitments on some issues while offering only best endeavour language in other areas of the trade facilitation negotiations. Trade facilitation, they stressed, cannot be the only harvest emerging from Bali.
 
According to trade officials, Nepal (on behalf of the Least Developed Countries) said that Bali is just a step in the Single Undertaking and in the negotiating process for achieving agreement in the overall Doha Round. There is need for political will and the need to deliver for the LDCs. Bali is not the end but there is need to have a mind-set for a clear and balanced outcome of benefit to the poorest countries. What the LDCs need is something that will be of benefit to them and that further delay will only lead to an exacerbation of their plight.
 
Highlighting the importance of market access, Rules of Origin, and trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building, Nepal said these remain serious problems for the LDCs. Why the LDCs, constituting 49 countries, represent only one percent of world trade, is something that needs to be addressed, said Nepal.
 
This stalemate must be overcome and a way forward found. With political will, this is possible, and Nepal is encouraged by what it says is a broad convergence on LDC-specific issues. It hopes that the Bali ministerial can be a turning point and that this can lead to some enhanced market access opportunities.
 
Emphasising the LDC issues of DFQF, Rules of Origin and cotton, Nepal said that there was need for some serious enhancement of trade-related technical assistance. The LDCs are working towards putting forward some proposals soon.
 
DFQF, Nepal underscored, was an implementation issue and not a negotiating issue, and it would like to see some timeframes developed on this. It wants to see something coming from the proposals that would not leave any LDC worse off than is currently the case. It said it will also support the forthcoming Cotton-4 proposal. It is engaging constructively on trade facilitation and that on the LDC-specific issues, it is prepared to continue working with members.
 
On agriculture, it said it will continue its engagement with members, stressing that the development dimension must be at the heart of this particular discussion.
 
Burkina Faso (on behalf of the Cotton-4) said that Bali is a stage in the Doha Round that could be a turning point in terms of concluding the round. A single proposal adopted by Bali on development issues could be extremely important, and this issue is the cotton issue. It wants to see adopted an approach on cotton that would have important content for developing countries. Any LDC or Bali package must include cotton. MC9 (ninth ministerial conference in Bali) will be able to give new impetus to the cotton negotiations. It wants to see real progress on the basis of the last agricultural draft text (of December 2008).
 
Australia (on behalf of the Cairns Group) said that work has been helpful in terms of identifying issues on trade facilitation, agriculture and development where there are divergences. It is pleased that agriculture has been returned to a place of prominence in the negotiations, and is supportive of the horizontal approach suggested (by the D-G).
 
The Group underscored the importance of food security to the members of the group, and said that the group will be very active in the negotiations on public stockholding (for food security). The export competition issue is very important to the group and the issue of export subsidies must be addressed, Australia added. It has long been a problem for many countries and that it's the most trade-distorting type of support offered to producers in rich countries.
 
It is prepared to approach discussions on this issue in a pragmatic and realistic manner, and hoped that others would be open minded as well. The time for preparing for the ministerial conference is limited and members must work at a higher tempo. The group is willing to endeavour to this end and will work hard to see that agriculture emerges as a key element in any Bali package.
 
Speaking for itself, Australia said that it welcomes the note of concern expressed by the D-G and the need to change the dynamics. It is encouraged by what the LDCs and the Cotton-4 had to say. Its own concern was in two other areas - trade facilitation and agriculture.
 
On the agriculture proposal of the G-33 on food security, Australia has significant concerns with the proposal in its current form. Its scope went far beyond what is acceptable as a Bali issue. The technical work has not made it clear why there is a need for this. Only two developing countries could actually afford a programme like this. While it can agree that food security is important, what it is concerned about is that this would cause commercial and systemic concerns for Australia. This is something which is at risk of reopening parts of the agriculture agreement.
 
By contrast, it said that the G-20 TRQ (Tariff Rate Quota) administration proposal is the sort of proposal that members can agree to. On the question of export competition, it is important for the US and the EU to show leadership and flexibility on this issue so that something can be delivered. It is important that the 2013 deadline (on ending export subsidies) be respected and that the Hong Kong ministerial declaration be adhered to.
 
On trade facilitation, the idea of trading off trade facilitation with the G-33 proposal (on food security) as currently constituted is not acceptable to Australia. The level of ambition is too high and it would be an impossible dilemma for Australia to be confronted with a decision about accepting trade facilitation at the price of dismantling one of the WTO's most important achievements - the Agreement on Agriculture.
 
Indonesia (on behalf of the G-33) welcomed the constructive engagement but stressed the need to build on this momentum. There is need to address the food security needs of developing countries, it said, adding that some progress has been made in the discussion of the G-33 proposal. Technical discussions have led to some focused progress and it hoped that this will translate soon into deliverables for Bali.
 
The G-33 is prepared to be flexible and is ready to engage. It seeks a balanced outcome and it would like to see a similar spirit coming from its trading partners. Food security is something that is of great importance to it and it needs a deliverable here.
 
On its own behalf, Indonesia said that a successful MC9 is in sight for all members. When it decided to host MC9, it did so with full confidence that members could deliver concrete outcomes. Even with only 33 weeks to go before MC9, it continues to believe this can be done.
 
Chinese Taipei (on behalf of the Recently Acceded Members) said time is quickly running out, and not just technical work, but political will is needed as well. Members are not yet in a problem-solving mode, and they need to move things up to political level. Both industrial and developing countries can benefit from trade facilitation.
 
On agriculture, it said that it is involved at a high level and it is interested to be involved in consultations and discussions on the G-33 proposal. It looked forward to engaging as well on the G-20's TRQ administration proposal.
 
On the Doha Round and the development dimension, its said that it is very important that the needs of developing countries and LDCs are taken into account. At MC8 (in Geneva in December 2011), there was a pledge made to seek a full package under the Single Undertaking but that members can try and harvest the low-hanging fruit. That is what Members should try and do at Bali. The preparatory work between now and then should be done in a fully transparent, inclusive and participatory manner.
 
Jamaica (on behalf of the ACP Group) pointed to the three pillars of the negotiations (TF, agriculture and S&D/LDC issues). We cannot have absolute symmetry but we must have optimal outcomes in each of these areas without holding any of these areas hostage to the others. Stressing the need for flexibility and the need to be realistic, Jamaica said a single Bali pillar is not feasible. There is need to accelerate (work) and to be much more pragmatic. The Bali Ministerial outcome is of systemic importance. We face challenges that are not going to be easy, said Jamaica, adding that the ACP is very keen to ensure that Section II of the TF negotiations (on S&D and technical assistance and capacity building) be addressed.
 
Speaking on its own behalf, Jamaica agreed with the G-33 statement, and appealed for an attitude adjustment. The multilateral platform is indispensable for the ACP countries who have fewer options to the multilateral trading system than those on whose shoulders the outcome of Bali rests.
 
Switzerland viewed the G-20 proposal as realistic and achievable, while the G-33 proposal as it stood now does not seem like a deliverable for Bali. On trade facilitation, it said that it's very important the members engage in the technical work required and that they should not make it a kind of a scoring system where one scores points, but one in which members are prepared to be flexible. There is need to ensure that adequate technical assistance is available.
 
It said that the Agreement-specific proposals seem doable as does the (S&D) monitoring mechanism but if there are any new proposals to come, they should come as soon as possible. Pointing to the proposal on export competition, which could be submitted soon, it said that if this proposal is not forthcoming, this might be a good thing because members should avoid overloading the agenda. It is important not to add issues that are not doable in Bali. It is very important that the major players show their commitment and engagement in this process.
 
Brunei (on behalf of ASEAN) said that the proposals that are yet to be tabled should be tabled as soon as possible.
 
Singapore said that what members need to do is not just change the pace but the direction in which they are going. Going around in circles at a higher rate of speed is not helpful. There is need for all members to work together. We really are at a decisive turning point and we need trade facilitation, agriculture and development issues to be done. This is very important in terms of building confidence. It is hearing a willingness for members to show greater flexibility and this is extremely important.
 
Egypt said that the Bali ministerial conference is an opportunity to renew support for the multilateral trading system, which has at its core the Doha Development Round. Development is the centrepiece of this round. There needs to be an outcome that produces something on agriculture and cotton, as well as other development issues including strengthening of S&D. Any early harvest that comes out must have the developing country requirements addressed.
 
On trade facilitation, Egypt said that there should not be a discussion going beyond the mandate of GATT Articles V (freedom of transit), VIII (fees and formalities connected with importation and exportation) and X (publication and administration of trade regulations). These are identified as the core of the trade facilitation negotiations, and that the negotiations be used to "clarify" GATT Articles and not "to amend" them. It bemoaned the lack of progress in Section II (on S&D and technical assistance and capacity-building) of the trade facilitation negotiations.
 
Japan said that since the last TNC meeting, it has indicated its desire to join the TPP and it has launched negotiations or preparatory talks aimed at securing a trade agreement with the EU. Despite this, Japan remains committed to the multilateral trading system. However, there has not been enough progress to get an outcome in Bali, and members have to change paths soon and to get capital-level officials more involved. Members need to try and find a way to intensify the work and enhance the effectiveness of the process. We need to move very quickly if we are to have an outcome in Bali. If not, then we have to face the prospect that a failure at Bali would mean a failure of the Doha Development Agenda, it warned.
 
Argentina agreed with the Cairns Group statement. On trade facilitation, there is need for clear rules but we don't need a harmonisation of procedures. On agriculture, it agreed that the G-20 proposal on TRQ administration is something doable. Disciplines are also needed on the application of these TRQs and we need some kind of monitoring mechanism to ensure that (TRQ) transparency is there. It's very important that the Hong Kong Ministerial mandate to end export subsidies by 2013 is reached. That is imperative, it stressed.
 
Norway said that there is need to ensure that adequate trade-related technical assistance is available on trade facilitation. There is no shortage of funds but what is needed is a mechanism to ensure that those funds are available to those who need them. On S&D, it said that it is difficult to see exactly how this monitoring mechanism would work, noting that the existing S&D works well. But a monitoring mechanism could be useful.
 
On the G-33 proposal, it sees a willingness to look for solutions without undermining the system and creating new problems. What we need now is a game-changer and we need to be aware of the time, and we need key players to step up and make us believe by their actions, not their words, it added.
 
Bangladesh supported the LDC group, and said that DFQF is not a matter of negotiations and it is already in the Hong Kong ministerial declaration. It is just really a matter of implementation.
 
The US (represented by Ambassador Michael Punke) said: "The purpose of this stock-taking exercise is straightforward: to sit together in one room and consider where we stand. It is important that we do this, because without a common understanding of our problems, we can't solve them. The date for the 9th Ministerial Meeting is far closer than it seems. And as many have said today, time is of the essence."
 
"And make no mistake; there is an urgent need for a serious course correction. The last Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December 2011 seemed to be a real turning point for the Membership of the WTO. All 153 Ministers at that time took the important step of acknowledging that Doha was at impasse, but also expressed a readiness to explore creative new approaches, including interim results in discrete areas where progress might be achieved, even against the broader backdrop of deadlock."
 
On trade facilitation, the US said, "we have not seen the 'meeting of the minds' that we might have expected would emerge. This is not for lack of engagement. Indeed, for three months we've conducted scores of meetings in every imaginable geometry, including intensive involvement by experts, ambassadors, and recently with the assistance of respected 'friends of the chair.'"
 
"Certainly, there has been an increase in knowledge among participants, an increased understanding of the gaps. What has not occurred is a narrowing of the gaps. Most concerning for the process, we watched key players support converging positions one week, then step away from the same position the next - a waste of precious time that calls into question the utility of weeks worth of labour."
 
The US said further: "Nor does there appear to be a meeting of the minds on fundamental concepts. Perhaps most significant, we don't even agree on the threshold issue of whether the trade facilitation agreement will be binding. This despite a ground-breaking proposal by the United States that would allow developing countries to self-determine individual implementation schedules according to their individual needs. This despite recent evidence from one LDC, which generously shared the details of its UNCTAD-provided needs assessment, that it might implement all of the obligations of a potential trade facilitation agreement in not more than four years, and at a modest cost of $15 million. This despite the world's multilateral, regional, and national development agencies proclaiming, repeatedly, their readiness to provide assistance."
 
The US claimed: "We all know that a trade facilitation agreement will benefit all countries - the evidence on time and cost savings is overwhelming. But these benefits will only accrue if Members are willing to finalize a strong agreement and then to implement it. Only three months ago, a diverse group of Ministers met at Davos and pointed us in a clear direction - a small package for Bali built around trade facilitation, an element on agriculture, and an element on development. There was genuine hope that intensive work could deliver such a result."
 
Yet only three months later, said Ambassador Punke, the picture is grim. "While it is not my intention to throw bricks, I will be frank in our substantive assessment of where various issues stand. That is the whole point of 'taking stock.'"
 
According to the US, the situation in the agriculture negotiations is even more dire. "In this context, it is worth recalling the fundamental nature of the exercise in which we're engaged. Because we know that major issues are at impasse, we're aiming at a 'small package.' Small means not everything. Or even a small piece of everything. The need for a retreat to a 'small package' was deeply disappointing to the United States, in part because the contemplated outcome does not address top US priorities of market access for agriculture, manufactured goods, and services."
 
"The G20 proposal last fall related to TRQ administration represents the type of initiative that is calibrated to our current context," said the US, adding that it remains ready to address this proposal. While not perfect, its scope does not call into question fundamental balances in the agriculture sector, and it aims to promote trade. Nor is it technically difficult to negotiate.
 
"The G33 proposal on stockholding of food put forward by India is exactly the opposite. Many in Geneva have expressed concerns about this proposal from the beginning, while also expressing willingness to consider the proposal with an open mind. For four months, the United States and others have engaged extensively to learn more, even in the face of incomplete information. But unfortunately these intensive discussions of the proposal have revealed more causes for concern, not fewer."
 
According to Ambassador Punke, "Frankly, the very essence of this proposal is confusing and concerning. Since the beginning of the Doha Round, developing countries have made clear that they view disciplines for the reduction of trade-distorting agriculture subsidies as one of the fundamental goals of the Round. Instead of creating new disciplines to reduce agriculture subsidies, the G33 proposal represents a step back from existing Uruguay Round disciplines - creating a new loophole for potentially unlimited trade-distorting subsidies."
 
"This new loophole, moreover, will be available only to a few emerging economies with the cash to use it. Other developing countries will accrue no benefit - and in fact will pay for the consequences. First, in the immediate term, when the governments using the program buy up stocks, world prices will go up, making it harder for poorer countries to meet their food needs. Later comes the inevitable problem of miscalculation. Over the longer term, the lure of guaranteed prices that are set before the planting season will draw more acres into production. If recent history is repeated, more stocks will be created than anticipated, and the surplus then will be dumped onto international and domestic markets - competing with the products of countries which aren't subsidizing - and lowering prices that farmers around the world get for their commodities."
 
"It is ironic that this proposal comes under a title of ‘food security.' Even if it did contribute to food security for the two or three countries that can afford the costs to support such a system - and this is debatable - it will certainly create volatility and insecurity for the vast majority of others. We, like many others in this organization, find it unthinkable that one of our few agriculture deliverables at Bali would be a step backwards from existing disciplines and cause more harm to international trade and to those who most need its benefits. We cannot support such an outcome," said the US.
 
The US further said: "Constructively, some members of the G33 recently have acknowledged the widespread concerns expressed with regard to their proposal and suggested a re-calibrated proposal for Bali. We stand ready to consider a new and more realistic proposal."
 
Beyond the existing proposals, the US said it is concerned about rumours of yet more proposals on agriculture.
 
"We want to be very clear in this regard. The G20 proposal seems to represent a fairly unique example of an agriculture initiative that does not immediately call into question the broader balances within the agriculture pillar - or with other pillars. But we see no further prospect for cherry picking from the agriculture pillar. Any Member insisting on a partial result in one part of agriculture should be prepared to offer readiness for parallel cherry picking in the rest of the pillar, for example, in agriculture market access. Or beyond the agriculture pillar, for example, in manufactured goods."
 
"Frankly, we are highly skeptical that potential proponents are ready for this type of discussion, and so the likely result, if we go down this path, will be continued impasse. Do we really want to watch this movie again?"
 
The US said: "Against this frustrating backdrop, how can we be anything but gravely concerned about the prospects for Bali? Some are eager to engage in a discussion of the 'post-Bali agenda.' But the post-Bali agenda can only be built on a foundation of a meaningful package of Bali deliverables."
 
"The time has come to speak bluntly. The Bali package is intended to be comprised of elements that are relatively easier to deliver. If Bali fails, it is hard to imagine how Doha can succeed. It defies logic to believe that, if we fail to deliver on the easier issues that the WTO is capable of delivering on the more difficult issues - issues at impasse now for more than a decade."
 
"We agree with many who have said that the fate of Doha is inextricably linked to the fate of Bali. If Bali fails, the signal that we will send, in a world full of fruitful trade negotiations, is that the WTO is the one place where trade negotiations don't succeed...," said Ambassador Punke.
 
The EU said that the effort to deliver in Bali is directly linked to the future of the DDA (Doha Development Agenda) and has profound relevance for the long term integrity of the multilateral trading system. It is no longer possible for Members to emphasise their commitment, without actually practically allowing the negotiations to move forward. The time to demonstrate the right kind of commitment has to start now and nobody will be able to hide from his or her responsibility in case of failure.
 
"Each one of us shares some amount of disappointment with the Bali set of issues as it stands today, particularly because core areas of interest to each one in this room are not being addressed, as quickly as the proponents would like, or are simply not addressed at all. Some progress has been made in the three pillars over the last months, but clearly the speed of progress is not sufficient. It seems we are once again caught in a self-defeating manner, in the trap of hostage taking: if my issues do not move, yours won't move either."
 
According to the EU, it is clear that trade facilitation is the one area that still requires the biggest technical effort. Hundreds of brackets still remain to be removed before a manageable number of outstanding issues can be usefully dealt with by higher level. Without rapid progress here, nothing will be agreed in time for MC9. Over the next few weeks, there is need to transform this momentum into real progress and in actual compromises on the texts. The trade facilitation cluster in the beginning of May and the negotiating group at the end of May should be important steps for that purpose.
 
On agriculture, the EU said that the recent transparency exercise on public stockholding programmes was useful and allowed us to better understand the programmes in a few developing countries, not all, as well as the breadth and complexity of the issues underlying the G-33 proposal on food security.
 
The EU said it remains committed to finding doable and realistic solutions without destabilising the rest of agricultural disciplines and whilst maintaining the integrity of the Green Box in particular by ensuring that Green Box support does not in any way have the effect of providing price support to producers. Since many of these issues are too far-reaching and go to the heart of the overall negotiations on domestic support under the DDA, it may well be that when looking for solutions, some elements might be part of the Early Harvest package for MC9, whilst others might need to form part of a wider negotiation post-Bali.
 
On the G-20 proposal on TRQ administration, the EU remained ready to engage constructively, seeing it as a potential part of an overall outcome at MC9 which respects the necessary balance in agriculture.
 
Noting that further potential proposals on agriculture have been mooted, even at this late stage, the EU warned against making proposals, which would be fundamentally unbalanced, in the absence of a wider agreement covering all agricultural pillars including domestic support and market access and other negotiating areas. This could jeopardise the prospect for an Early Harvest package at MC9.
 
South Africa said: "As we continue with the preparations for Bali we should not forget that the economic recovery from the Great Recession in the major developed economies remains weak, and in some countries economic conditions are worsening... The fear of increased competition and loss of jobs is creating the impetus for macro-economic and trade policies to be domestically focused in the major economies. This fear of global competition - is at the heart of the current prolonged impasse in the Doha Round. It is also the reason that some members have decided to focus on bilateral and plurilateral negotiations - hoping to restore their competitiveness and build leverage to shift the balance in the multilateral system in their favour."
 
In the discussions that led up to this meeting, including at Davos this year, some of the major players have made it clear that they have red lines on some issues of interest to the poorest countries and they are only able to deliver on what is doable to them. This is the context in which we are working for a small package of deliverables for Bali, said South Africa, noting however, the good news is that after much discussion and negotiations here in Geneva in the past few months, all members agree that a small package of deliverables should be harvested in Bali.
 
"We also agree that this package should include at least three significant pillars: the concerns of LDCs and other poor countries; Agriculture; and Trade Facilitation. We all agree that this package should be balanced and that the balance should be in favour of the poorest countries," it said.
 
On trade facilitation, it said that there are still several hundred brackets in the text. The level of ambition in the draft text remains uneven. Some of the major players are demanding high levels of ambition and binding commitments on some issues where this suits their own system and business interests whilst offering only best endeavour language on issues where they will have to make changes to their legislation and system.
 
The language on S&D for the poorest countries in section two of the text is cast in flexibilities reminiscent of Henry Ford's dictum: "you can have any colour you like as long as it is black". And the promises developed countries made in previous negotiations to provide binding capacity-building and technical assistance to support the implementation of these new commitments has remained unfulfilled until now.
 
On agriculture, "we have made some progress in agreeing that this should be one of the elements of any package. However, there are still major challenges ahead. The proposal on transparency in TRQ administration has been largely supported but some major developed countries still remain to be convinced. The proposal by the G33 to address the needs of poor farmers in many developing countries and for food security remains a red line by some major players. We will need both political will and flexibility to deliver a symbolic but meaningful gesture of the WTO's sensitivity to the interests of the poor."
 
Noting that the G-20 is also at work to table a proposal on export competition, it said that these practices of the developed countries, such as export subsidies, contain some of the most egregious aspects of the unresolved issues in agriculture trade, which impact negatively on the poorest farmers, particularly in Africa. Willingness to address this in the Bali package will signal that we have not abandoned the promises made, and agreements reached, to eliminate these trade distorting and harmful practices.
 
Against the backdrop of their issues being painted as red lines by the major developed members, the LDCs have been struggling to fashion a set of proposals for Bali. They have been concerned that whilst preserving their demands contained in several agreements reached in previous WTO Ministerial Meetings, their proposals for Bali do not clash directly with the red lines demarcated by some major players, said South Africa.
 
However, it added, the stakes at Bali are about more than the delivery of a small package of deliverables. "What is bedeviling this negotiations is the concern of some that a small package is a necessary platform to resuscitate the momentum for the conclusion of the Doha round and the fears of others that if the small package does not contain issues of interest to them it may be the last package of deliverables for a long time as the Doha round may never be resuscitated. These systemic issues are the underlying concerns in the negotiations and we cannot afford to ignore them and only return to them after Bali."
 
The Doha round and indeed the WTO is not on the radar screens of the major players. The business communities, in these countries, have resigned themselves to work for market access through plurilateral and bilateral agreements. Meanwhile, the multilateral system is languishing. Developing countries remain hopeful that the promises made in the Doha round to rectify the imbalances in the multilateral trading system and address the needs and interests of developing countries in the negotiations will be delivered, it added.
 
"This is not the time to give up on multilateralism but to strengthen it. It is not the time to create new and powerful trading blocs that will erode the principle of non-discrimination or MFN enshrined in Article 1 of the GATT. This is not the time for small 'coalitions of the willing' to create new standards and seek to impose them later on the rest of the membership. As our world becomes more diverse, more complex and more challenging - we need to roll up our sleeves and seek creative solutions that will defy the sceptics and strengthen multilateral rules that are fair, balanced, inclusive, and development oriented. Reaching an understanding on these underlying issues will contribute immensely to improving the negotiating atmosphere for a small package of deliverables at Bali," said South Africa.
 
According to trade officials, New Zealand said that it is very important that members try and look for balance and to try and avoid a blame-game. Many are looking to try and find someone to blame. It is very important that the level of engagement is elevated. But we must not confuse process with substance. We need to see greater engagement of the major players and that they need to show us what the contours of the package will be.
 
China said that it would like to associate itself with the G-20 and G-33 statements, and supports the presentation by LDC group. "We have to admit that we are seriously behind our schedule to achieve credible deliverables at MC9, considering only 80 working days left before the summer break. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to call upon all Members, the major ones in particular, to enhance the sense of urgency and to exercise maximum flexibilities in future discussions."
 
Its assessment is that the relevant topics under discussion, albeit difficult, are not invincible, and the key is to find out a pragmatic solution to take care of all Members' concerns and to strike the proper balance in the small package. Having listened to Members' interventions, it felt that no one in this room could bear the consequences of the failure at Bali.
 
"That failure is not only the defeat of the Doha Round, but also the loss of the multilateral trading system. To avoid such an unpleasant result, we have to hurry up since time is already not on our side."
 
According to trade officials, Chile said that if we cannot get a package for Bali, it will be the end of the Doha Round, because there will be no basis for anything. If we don't change our mind-set, we are not going to get an agreement. We need to have a sense of urgency and need political will.
 
India said that it is broadly in agreement with what the Director-General has said. There has been a lot of useful technical discussions on trade facilitation. It has no problem with trade facilitation as a concept. There is a lot here that would help facilitate imports but would also help facilitate exports.
 
On the other elements of the package, namely the two agriculture proposals, India said it is important to keep in mind that these proposals were included and discussed in 2008, and one of these proposals was discussed in 2005 if not earlier.
 
On the Agreement-specific proposals, it said that these issues have been under discussion since before 2003. So, we need to get something going here. On the monitoring mechanism, it is clear as well that this is something that has been under consideration for quite a long time.
 
It is deeply committed to bringing about a Bali package. It recognised that trade facilitation will be a part, but there have to be other elements of this as well. Trade facilitation cannot be the only harvest.
 
It said it has certain ideas and perspectives and it realises that others have their own ideas as well. The idea is to try and narrow differences and to try and find convergence. We heard a lot about red-lines. The good news is that everybody agrees that we need a Bali package and everybody agrees that the three areas are the ones on which we should have agreement.
 
The G-33 proposal has found broad acceptance with the exception of about two or three delegations who object to what is on the table. The G-33 is prepared to be flexible and to look at other options. What we need is a ‘what if' conversation, but the 'what if' should be 'what if I do this for you' and not 'what if I take this from you'. The bad news though is that we are running out of time and we need to move forward. If we feel the need to throw bricks at each other, this won't make it any easier. We must make all efforts to try and avoid this.
 
On trade facilitation, India said there are many proposals that are out there. In fact, the trade facilitation text is 33 pages long while the G-33 proposal is only 2 pages long and the operative part is only about 7 lines. On the question of trade facilitation, some major players are saying that it pre-supposes that their systems are perfect and that it is others that must make changes. They are also asking for carve-outs and are seeking to make best endeavours in areas that they find politically difficult. The future does not appear too bright at the moment.
 
Oman (on behalf of the Arab Group) said that members must have something on LDCs in respect of development issues, and on accessions, particularly on Yemen which has been held up for some time and this needs to move forward.
 
Colombia agreed with the Cairns Group. We must have more flexibility from the developed countries with respect to the agriculture proposals. We need to have a horizontal process that is intensified. The major players, instead of re-stating their red-lines, should say what it is they can do to bring about compromise, it added. +

 


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