Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb14/03)
17 February 2014
Third World Network
Members voice a range of views on post-Bali work
Published in SUNS #7739 dated 10 February 2014
7 Feb (Kanaga Raja) -- The importance of concluding the Doha Round
as a Single Undertaking and the centrality of development were underscored
by developing countries at the first informal meeting of the Trade
Negotiations Committee (TNC) following the Bali Ministerial Conference
The developing countries also stressed the importance of an inclusive
and transparent process going forward, and for prioritisation of the
Bali package issues that did not have a legally binding outcome at
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs), for instance, called on WTO
members to focus on the conclusion of the DDA (Doha Development Agenda)
and to avoid new issues, as well as to address the longstanding LDC
These views came in their statements at the informal TNC meeting on
Thursday following a statement made by Director-General Roberto Azevedo,
in his capacity as TNC Chair.
In his statement, the TNC Chair had pointed to two significant tasks
before the membership, the first and foremost being the need to implement
the decisions and agreements reached in Bali, while the second is
to prepare a clearly defined work programme on the remaining Doha
Development Agenda (DDA) issues by the end of 2014.
"These two tasks will form the bulk of our work over the course
of this year," the D-G had added.
Mr Azevedo had also highlighted some parameters - which he said is
intended merely to provide some inspiration in the discussions - and
called for the members to keep these parameters in mind over the coming
weeks and months.
He had summarised these parameters as: 1. Development as a central
pillar; 2. Doability - balancing realism and ambition, with no-one
being asked to do the impossible; 3. Recognising that the issues are
interconnected, so must be tackled together; 4. Staying creative and
open-minded; 5. Always being inclusive and transparent; and 6. Maintaining
a sense of urgency. (See SUNS #7738 dated 7 February 2014.)
According to trade officials, Switzerland supported the D-G's statement
and recounted the Davos mini-ministerial meeting held earlier in January.
There is need for spending some time to identify the doable, and on
development, to ensure that the LDCs get the priority, it said.
The issues of agriculture, industrial goods and services need to be
taken up, it said, noting that some Ministers in Davos had spoken
of the importance of a plurilateral approach inside an MFN-WTO context.
Bali has put the WTO back in business, it further said, but the success
(of Bali) will really be measured by whether members can implement
the outcome and whether they can deliver on aspects that go beyond
what they had in Bali.
Indonesia (on behalf of the G-33) said that Bali is an important stepping
stone and there is need to establish a clearly defined work programme
and to provide permanent solutions on the question of public stockholding
for food security.
Lesotho (on behalf of the African Group) said that implementation
(of the Bali package) and the Doha pathway are important parts of
the work programme. It said that the principles that the D-G had spelled
out are tried and tested in the negotiations leading up to Bali and
there should be no shadow of a doubt that they must be followed.
The African Group stressed that the outcome of the negotiations must
be consistent with a positive development outcome, saying that participation
is important but so are the share of the results that will emerge
from a final agreement. Commercial benefits must be extended to all
members especially the most vulnerable, most of which are in Africa.
Equity in the outcome will be the gold standard by which we should
be measured, it said, adding that there is need for respect for red-lines
and for the mandate, and to try to find within this context what is
doable. There should be no a priori exclusions (in the negotiations).
Chinese Taipei (on behalf of the Recently Acceded Members) said that
Bali has shown the world that the multilateral trading system still
works, and that a failure at Bali would have been particularly harmful
for the recently acceded members on account of the extensive commitments
that they had to make in order to join the WTO.
It stressed that the concerns of the recently acceded members must
be taken into account during the ensuing discussions.
Kenya (on behalf of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group) said
that there is need for a transparent and inclusive process, and that
development must be central. The Single Undertaking should not be
seen to be eroded.
Brazil (on behalf of the G-20) said that it hoped to build on what
was agreed at Bali, adding that it will be following very closely
the agriculture issues that were agreed there, particularly TRQ (Tariff
Rate Quota) administration and export competition.
Priority should also be given to those issues that did not have a
legally binding outcome, and this is especially true of export competition,
On behalf of itself, Brazil said that President Dilma Rousseff, at
Bali, had called for a Doha Round agreement that had development at
It is time now for members to be bolder in the way they approach what
they do, and need to take on the negotiating issues that are difficult,
especially the issues of agriculture, industrial goods and services,
which will allow for a meaningful contribution and outcome for everybody,
Brazil said that it will keep an open mind and wants to see an outcome
that has development at its core.
On the question of new issues, Brazil said that it would agree that
the world has changed since the launch of the Doha Round (in 2001)
but it has changed less than what many people think, and what is really
important is that members focus their efforts on the unfulfilled agenda
of the twentieth century, especially in agriculture.
Uganda (on behalf of the Least Developed Countries) said that it wants
a transparent and inclusive process, which was very much a part of
the Bali ministerial conference preparation and the meeting itself.
Lessons should be drawn from the Bali experience and this would help
members in future negotiations.
Uganda said that it would like to see binding and time-bound outcomes
for the LDCs, and there is need to make sure that the Bali package
issues that were not legally binding are a priority, and to move beyond
the Bali outcome and onto other issues.
It was concerned about various pronouncements that came from different
fora regarding the LDCs, but that the promises that came from these
various fora have scarcely materialised.
It appealed to the WTO Secretariat, the D-G and the industrialised
countries to prioritise LDC issues, adding that the credibility of
the process will depend on how the developed countries fulfill Section
II (on S&D provisions) commitments in trade facilitation.
There must not be onerous requirements made of LDCs in terms of distributing
technical assistance funds for capacity-building, it said, adding
that a very important part of technical assistance and aid for trade
is the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the mandate for this should
be extended beyond the 2015 deadline.
It also said that members should focus on the conclusion of the DDA
and to avoid new issues, and to address the longstanding LDC issues,
particularly development issues and agriculture.
Australia (on behalf of the Cairns Group) said that it wants a level
playing field in agriculture and that this means in all three parts
of the agriculture pillar - market access, curbing domestic support
and eliminating trade distorting export subsidies.
It is very important that the issue of domestic support be looked
at closely. The debate on public stockholding for food security gave
rise to a lot of different perspectives and going forward we will
have to have a balance of interests considered in this discussion,
On behalf of itself, Australia said that it is very important that
Bali has shown that the WTO can deliver negotiated outcomes, but there
is need to keep showing this, particularly the need to have outcomes
that contribute to jobs and growth and this needs to happen in the
Egypt said that Bali has restored confidence. The Single Undertaking
principle must not be compromised, and that this is the best tool
for striking the right balance, it said.
The European Union said that the Bali ministerial conference was a
landmark and that the Doha Round has been moved away from a dangerous
cliff. We must now move forward and the Bali Ministerial Declaration
provides clear direction, it added.
This is about implementation and this is particularly important for
trade facilitation, it said, adding that it will be a test of members'
resolve if they can implement this along the time-lines that have
It urged developing countries to make clear to it as soon as possible
what their technical assistance priorities are with respect to Section
II (of the Trade Facilitation Agreement) because it is now in the
process of organising its aid programme for the future, so it needs
to know how to target this aid.
On the Doha work programme, the EU said that this will be very challenging.
It is important that members be realistic as to what and when results
can be achieved. There is need to avoid the mistakes of the past,
and to avoid the same traps that members have encountered. There is
need to have a balanced outcome and to have the three issues of agriculture,
industrial goods and services to be taken up together.
It noted that there have been changes to global trade since 2001.
There is need to focus on areas where negotiations can be achieved,
and to have a right balance with these issues, while also ensuring
that the interests of the poorest countries are taken into account.
Members should not go forward under the illusion that there is a common
size that fits all. The first step is to ensure that there is a change
in the landscape of the negotiating approach, said the EU, adding
that this has been done already. There is need to continue to work
in this same way and to exercise self-restraint.
Argentina supported the G-20 and the Cairns Group statements. In its
view, the Bali ministerial outcome was a modest one, especially for
developing countries. The Bali Ministerial Declaration gives priority
to finding a binding outcome for agriculture and LDC issues, it added.
With respect to export competition, it said that this must be a priority
of the post-Bali work programme. There is need to adopt the REV. 4
text (draft agriculture modalities text of December 2008), and this
has been specifically recognised in the Bali Ministerial Declaration.
The priority must be agriculture and the interests of the developing
countries in the future work programme.
Canada said that the Bali ministerial conference was extremely important
and it brought about a renewed confidence in the WTO system, but there
is need to begin to assemble a package which will enable members to
have a market access outcome in the areas of agriculture, industrial
goods and services. All of these must be infused with a development
It noted that its Minister had said in Davos that investment, competition,
energy, environment and the digital economy are important to the entire
business community and should be taken up.
Bangladesh said that it supported the Uganda statement on behalf of
the LDCs. Members need to be faithful to the development dimension
and that there should be no a priori exclusions of the Doha issues,
and new issues should not be taken up. There is need for a decision
on what members can do and how to prioritise issues of importance
to the LDCs.
Colombia said that trade facilitation must move first and that work
should be stepped up for this in the context of trade-related technical
assistance and capacity-building. On agriculture, notification requirements
must be updated. On development, it took note of the monitoring mechanism
but that there are other issues of importance as well.
It said that there is need for an open and frank discussion with respect
to the post-Bali work programme and agriculture will play a central
role in this.
Japan said that steady implementation of the Bali package is of the
utmost importance, adding that implementation of the Trade Facilitation
Agreement is of particular priority. The post-Bali work programme
needs to take into account the changes on the world trade scene. It
is prepared to engage in discussions in all areas.
It called on those countries that are negotiating the (expansion of)
the Information Technology Agreement (ITA II) to make every effort
to further reduce the number of sensitive products that they have
on their list.
Bolivia said that it can't say that the Bali result was a good result.
No result can be called a good result if the majority of the countries
did not get what they wanted. It did not think that the approach that
was used in Bali is the approach that members should use going forward.
It said that the REV. 4 text should be the basis for the agriculture
discussions and paragraph 47 (of the Doha Declaration) on the Single
Undertaking should also be included as this is central to the negotiating
process. Small packages are of benefit only to a minority of countries,
Korea said that it agrees that Bali is only the beginning, and voiced
agreement with the D-G's principles and it wanted to focus on several
of them. It also agreed with Japan that the ITA II is very important
and members must do all they can to conclude this as soon as possible.
According to trade officials, the United States said that the first
thing that needs to be done is to implement the Trade Facilitation
Agreement, and the (post-Bali) work programme is also important moving
forward. It is open-minded on this and agreed that there is inter-connectivity
between the big issues.
It said that the D-G's principles and approach would be a good way
to guide members to a successful outcome. There is need as well to
ask where trade has changed and to update data on trade and subsidy
Peru highlighted the issues of implementation and a clearly defined
work programme, saying that the work programme should include a reference
to the protection of traditional knowledge, and the acknowledgment
of the importance of the Convention on Biological Diversity in the
context of the TRIPS agreement.
China said that the traditional informal Davos ministerial provided
a group of Ministers with an opportunity, first time since the Bali
success, to exchange views on the key tasks in front of us in 2014.
It added that its take-away from the meeting is that everyone wants
to build on the momentum generated in Bali and everyone believes that
"we must faithfully implement the Bali results and conscientiously
formulate a Post-Bali work programme with joint efforts of all Members."
On the first priority, China said that it shared the view that the
Trade Facilitation agreement should be implemented according to the
provided timelines so as to bring tangible benefits to all Members.
"We also need to find ways to proceed on those issues that are
not fully addressed or the results of which are not binding in Bali.
Only with that could we set up a positive atmosphere and a sound basis
for the discussion of the Post-Bali work programme."
On the second priority, China highlighted some points of principles
that the D-G had shared with the membership: development dimension,
realism, inclusiveness and sense of urgency.
China stressed that the development dimension should be the starting
point, as well as the end point, of the Post Bali process.
On the issue of realism, it said that the level of ambition should
be doable and the outcome should be meaningful and conducive to the
eventual conclusion of the whole DDA. In order to do so, "we
must listen carefully and broadly to Members, the developing Members
in particular, before coming up with some proposed solutions in one
way or the other."
On inclusiveness, China appreciated the fully transparent manner in
which the D-G had chaired the negotiation. "We share that it
is a negotiation for all Members and the ownership belongs to all
Members, be it developed or developing, big or small."
"For the sense of urgency, we have less than 12 months to go,
so let's roll up our sleeves and get down to work. Let's start from
something easier while deliberating on how to tackle the tough ones,"
According to trade officials, Saudi Arabia said that it is open to
the D-G's principles. It called for balance and that the issues of
the developing countries, the LDCs and the recently acceded members
must be taken into consideration.
Cuba supported the G-33, G-20 and the ACP statements. It said that
the Bali ministerial conference results were modest in nature. The
Trade Facilitation Agreement is the only legally binding thing to
come out of this, and that the Single Undertaking needs to be the
sole way of moving forward.
Norway said that members need to build on the momentum of Bali, and
that in terms of implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement, it
is absolutely vital that members get right the trade-related technical
assistance part of Section II. It is contributing $7 million to this
end, it added.
We must have development at the heart of the DDA, it further said,
but we do also need to modernise our rules. There is need for a transparent
and inclusive approach going forward, it added.
New Zealand said that implementing the Bali accords and the work programme
of the Doha negotiations are a priority. It should not be a sterile
process-oriented discussion. There is enough flexibility in the mandate
to explore new ways forward.
Nigeria said that there is need to have a transparent and inclusive
process, and agreed with the D-G's principles.
Costa Rica said that members need to be responsive to the needs of
what businesses are doing, so there is need to be open and have a
discussion about issues such as investment and global value chains,
and to see how these issues might be better folded into the WTO.
Thailand called for a fully inclusive and transparent process.
Barbados said that the Bali outcome was important and there is need
to focus on implementing those (Bali) issues.
There is also need to move forward with a sense of urgency on the
Doha package but that members must take into account that developing
countries are moving at a different pace - some are doing well but
others face strong surges in imports that are not sustainable, it
Ecuador said that the post-Bali work programme should mean that members
do not take up issues that are outside of the DDA mandate and that
there must be a balanced outcome. Agriculture should be central and
there is need as well to focus on issues that are important to the
According to trade officials, India congratulated the D-G on the success
of Bali, but the question is ‘what do we do now?' Members must not
stray from the mandate, it said, adding that the mandate is very clear.
The Doha Round must be concluded as a priority.
It agreed that there is need to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement,
but more importantly, are all the other issues where a binding agreement
could not be obtained in Bali - agriculture, LDCs and development
It also pointed to the need to have a very frank and open discussion
among the members, and to have a very clear understanding of each
others' expectations and demands.
We're not going to get everything that we initially envisaged - no
negotiation ever results in this - but we can't keep breaking the
Single Undertaking up into little pieces. We have to agree on the
whole package. We have to use the Single Undertaking and we have to
agree on it now. It has to be a give-and-take but we need to put much
more emphasis on ‘give', said India.
Honduras agreed with Indonesia (which spoke on behalf of the G-33).
It stressed the importance of the REV. 4 text on agriculture.
Singapore noted that everyone is talking about the need for open-mindedness,
which it said is important, but that means that every individual country
must itself be open-minded and not just assume that it will only be
Sierra Leone agreed with the LDC, African Group and the ACP statements.
According to trade officials, Director-General Azevedo wrapped up
the session by saying that it was a very helpful and useful meeting.
He detected a good degree of commonality.
This was an exercise in ‘mutual listening' and that is what we are
going to have to do a lot of and it's going to be the Chairs who will
lead this process now, and then we will hear from them and see where
we are on 14 March (at a General Council meeting), he concluded. +