Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec13/07)
10 December 2013
Third World Network
MC9 closes after adopting Bali package
Published in SUNS #7713 dated 9 December 2013
Geneva, 7 Dec (Kanaga Raja) -- The ninth session of the Ministerial
Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) came to a close on
the morning of Saturday (Dec 7), after adopting a Ministerial Declaration,
the entire Bali package of ten texts, and five other Ministerial decisions.
The conference, which began on 3 December and was scheduled to end
on 6 December, spilled over into Saturday , when a very small group
of countries, citing some concerns, had refused to join the consensus
on the draft Bali package at an earlier informal Heads of Delegation
The proposed Bali package was presented to Members at an informal
HOD meeting at around 8.00 pm on Friday. Another informal HOD meeting
was held at around 1.00 am on Saturday.
However, at this informal meeting, according to trade diplomats, Cuba,
Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia said that they could not go along
with the texts.
Trade diplomats said that two issues were raised, one being a point
of procedure (when Cuba was denied the floor at an earlier HOD meeting)
and the other being the issue of transit under trade facilitation
when the text relating to transparency and non-discrimination (the
US trade embargo against Cuba) had been deleted.
(According to a trade diplomat, at the informal HOD meeting at around
8.00 pm when the draft Bali package was presented to members, Cuba,
which had wanted to speak, was denied the floor. Cuba then said that
it would not join the consensus in relation to the texts, according
to the trade diplomat.)
An informal HOD meeting that was later scheduled for 4.30 am on Saturday
was postponed to 10.00 am the same day, and this was followed quickly
by the closing plenary session.
At the closing plenary, Conference Chair Indonesian Trade Minister
Gita Wirjawan paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, and South African
Trade Minister Rob Davies was also given the floor.
The Chair then proceeded to take action on a revised draft Ministerial
Declaration (which was circulated on Saturday morning), the five draft
Ministerial decisions, and the Bali package of ten texts. All were
duly adopted to a standing ovation.
(The revised draft Bali Ministerial Declaration had added the following
paragraph under the trade facilitation sub-heading: "In this
regard, we reaffirm that the non-discrimination principle of Article
V of GATT 1994 remains valid."
(According to trade officials, this paragraph was included to address
the concerns voiced by Cuba.)
The five draft Ministerial Decisions were on TRIPS non-violation and
situation complaints, work programme on electronic commerce, work
programme on small economies, aid for trade, and trade and transfer
The ten texts comprising the Bali package are the agreement on trade
facilitation; general services; public stockholding for food security
purposes; understanding on tariff rate quota administration; export
competition; cotton; preferential rules of origin for least-developed
countries; operationalisation of the waiver concerning preferential
treatment to services and service suppliers of least-developed countries;
duty-free and quota-free market access for least-developed countries;
and monitoring mechanism on special and differential treatment.
On the critical issue of food security, paragraph one of the draft
Ministerial Decision on public stockholding for food security purposes
states: "1. Members agree to put in place an interim mechanism
as set out below, and to negotiate on an agreement for a permanent
solution, for the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes
for adoption by the 11th Ministerial Conference."
A footnote to this paragraph states that the permanent solution will
be applicable to all developing Members.
The second paragraph of the draft decision on food security states:
"In the interim, until a permanent solution is found, and provided
that the conditions set out below are met, Members shall refrain from
challenging through the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, compliance
of a developing Member with its obligations under Articles 6.3 and
7.2 (b) of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) in relation to support
provided for traditional staple food crops in pursuance of public
stockholding programmes for food security purposes existing as of
the date of this Decision, that are consistent with the criteria of
paragraph 3, footnote 5, and footnote 5&6 of Annex 2 to the AoA
when the developing Member complies with the terms of this Decision."
A footnote to this paragraph states: "This Decision does not
preclude developing Members from introducing programmes of public
stockholding for food security purposes in accordance with the relevant
provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture."
On notification and transparency, the draft Ministerial Decision on
food security states:
"A developing Member benefiting from this Decision must:
"a. have notified the Committee on Agriculture that it is exceeding
or is at risk of exceeding either or both of its Aggregate Measurement
of Support (AMS) limits (the Member's Bound Total AMS or the de minimis
level) as result of its programmes mentioned above;
"b. have fulfilled and continue to fulfil its domestic support
notification requirements under the AoA in accordance with document
G/AG/2 of 30 June 1995, as specified in the Annex;
"c. have provided, and continue to provide on an annual basis,
additional information by completing the template contained in the
Annex, for each public stockholding programme that it maintains for
food security purposes; and
"d. provide any additional relevant statistical information described
in the Statistical Appendix to the Annex as soon as possible after
it becomes available, as well as any information updating or correcting
any information earlier submitted."
With respect to anti-circumvention/safeguards, the draft decision
"4. Any developing Member seeking coverage of programmes under
paragraph 2 shall ensure that stocks procured under such programmes
do not distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other
"5. This Decision shall not be used in a manner that results
in an increase of the support subject to the Member's Bound Total
AMS or the de minimis limits provided under programmes other than
those notified under paragraph 3. a."
As to the work programme, the draft decision states:
"8. Members agree to establish a work programme to be undertaken
in the Committee on Agriculture to pursue this issue with the aim
of making recommendations for a permanent solution. This work programme
shall take into account Members' existing and future submissions.
"9. In the context of the broader post-Bali agenda, Members commit
to the work programme mentioned in the previous paragraph with the
aim of concluding it no later than the 11th Ministerial Conference.
"10. The General Council shall report to the 10th Ministerial
Conference for an evaluation of the operation of this Decision, particularly
on the progress made on the work programme."
At a subsequent closing press conference, Minister Gita said that
what was accomplished during this time represents a historic achievement
- the Bali package. "These agreements will provide a real stimulus
to the global economy at a time when many countries are experiencing
sluggish growth and high unemployment. These benefits are real and
they will be durable. Just as importantly, we have proved that the
multilateral trading system and the WTO can deliver."
"The deal that we have struck will benefit all WTO Members. It
will provide new opportunities for business in our poorest members,
the LDCs. Provides governments with assurance that they can implement
food security programmes without fear or facing dispute action in
the WTO. But it also offers a safeguard that such programmes will
not be used in a manner which distorts trade and adversely affects
farmers in other countries," he said.
Developing country farmers will have enhanced market access through
an improved system of administering import quotas in developed countries.
The agreement on trade facilitation will streamline customs procedures
by reducing unnecessary fees, paperwork and practices, said Minister
"This week has been about high level diplomacy, long nights and
considerable drama. But it has also been about ensuring that the gains
of the multilateral trading system reach our small businesses and
our most vulnerable economies. It is moreover an international agreement
that will have local impact."
Speaking at the same press conference, Director-General Roberto Azevedo
said that in recent weeks the WTO has come alive, "and that we
have seen, I think, the organization the way it should be. Negotiating,
dynamic, working hard to get an agreement. And in recent weeks we
really lived up to our name."
"Instead of small groups of countries negotiating in closed rooms,
the entire membership came together to negotiate. And this is why
all members have ownership of the outcomes. And this is why they all
fought for it. And we have put the world back into the World Trade
"We prepared a set of texts which was championed by members from
all over the world, of all stages of development, and so I am delighted
to say that for the first time in history, the WTO has delivered.
We're back in business," he said.
"With these measures on trade facilitation, agriculture and development,
we have achieved something very significant. People all around the
world will benefit from the package that the WTO members have delivered
today, especially the unemployed, the poor and the vulnerable,"
said the Director-General.
In his assessment of the overall Bali package, one trade diplomat
told SUNS that he can't say that it is balanced, adding that trade
facilitation is the highest denominator.
According to the trade diplomat, there remains some unfinished work
that needs to be sorted out in Geneva.
What is more worrying, said the trade diplomat, is the time period
for the post-Bali work programme (within the next 12 months, as set
forth in the Ministerial Declaration).
If no urgency is put into that, the rest of the Doha Development Agenda
risks going into oblivion, the trade diplomat cautioned.