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TWN 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 issues.
 
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 facilitation.
 
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 resistance.
 
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.

 


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