Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul13/06)
29 July 2013
Third World Network
TF Chair bemoans lack of flexibility, talks not on track for Bali
Published in SUNS #7632 dated 23 July 2013
Geneva, 22 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the Negotiating Group
on Trade Facilitation (TF), at the end of a week of negotiations from
15-19 July, said that at the current pace, he did not see the Group
being on track for a successful outcome at the Bali ministerial conference
taking place this December.
According to trade officials, at the end of the week-long session
of the TF Negotiating Group on Friday, the Chair, Ambassador Eduardo
Ernesto Sperisen-Yurt of Guatemala, said that this was due to the
fact that difficult issues and tough decisions are being dodged.
Regretting the lack of flexibility shown by members, he said this
is "the real problem".
Ambassador Sperisen-Yurt called for "a more political, senior-level"
negotiating process to resolve differences that go beyond the technical
There is need for more senior-level involvement in the autumn, and
this is important for participants to have the authority to negotiate
compromises and work out solutions at a faster pace than has been
the reality so far, he added.
According to trade officials, he also floated the idea of a "Signalling
Conference", where members openly submit their definitive proposals
for the finalisation of the text.
Also at the end of the TF week, the four "Friends of the Chair"
reported only some progress, with difficult issues still to be tackled
and important technical aspects left unresolved in the draft negotiating
text (TN/TF/W/165/Rev. 16).
(The four Friends of the Chair are Ambassadors Yonov Frederick Agah
of Nigeria, Mario Matus of Chile and Remigi Winzap of Switzerland,
and Mr Michael Stone of Hong Kong-China.)
According to trade officials, among the major issues that came out
during the week of negotiations were the level of ambition, the resistance
displayed by many developing countries on accepting "onerous"
commitments, and the still pending issue of the level of flexibility,
technical assistance and capacity-building to be provided to developing
and least developed countries for implementing any agreement on trade
Some members expressed disappointment with the results of the week
of negotiations, while others pointed to the various pressures that
were put upon delegations during the week to advance on the cleaning
up of the draft negotiating text.
Venezuela, for instance, said that these kinds of pressures generate
According to trade officials, some developing countries, Bolivia among
them, said that the problem is the level of ambition being demanded
by developed countries, a level that many developing countries find
difficult to accept.
The next meeting of the Negotiating Group is scheduled for the week
of 7 October.