BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER

TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun14/01)
2 June 2014
Third World Network  

Chair reports on consultations in WTO Rules Group
Published in SUNS #7807 dated 20 May 2014

Geneva, 19 May (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules, at an informal meeting on 16 May, reported that some delegations have said that undertaking early work on rules might be counter-productive.
 
According to trade officials, the Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, further reported that in his consultations, some delegations had also indicated their priorities in the rules negotiations.
 
The Chair said that he is open to consultations if delegations feel it's time to shift gears.
 
He also said that when and what should be included in the work programme on rules are in the hands of delegations.
 
(The Rules negotiations encompass the issues of anti-dumping, general subsidies, fisheries subsidies and provisions relating to regional trade agreements.)
 
According to trade officials, New Zealand, on behalf of the ‘Friends of Fish' group (including Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, and the US), said that they remain committed to ambitious and effective work on fisheries subsidies.
 
They stressed that disciplines in this area should be central in any Doha Round work programme.
 
New Zealand also noted that global fish stocks continue to fall while harmful fish subsidies continue to increase.
 
According to trade officials, Iceland, Norway, Colombia, Peru, Australia, Argentina, Chile and the US supported the New Zealand statement.
 
Switzerland said that despite being a landlocked country, it supports work on fisheries subsidies.
 
Japan, on behalf of the ‘Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations (FANs)', pointed to the need for clear disciplines in the rules area.
 
Japan said that the FANs have submitted more than 100 working documents and proposals on anti-dumping.
 
It further said that anti-dumping should be included in the post-Bali work programme.
 
(According to information posted on the WTO website, the members of the FANs include Brazil, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong-China, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey).
 
According to trade officials, Norway, Switzerland, Korea, Colombia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Chile and Hong Kong-China spoke in support of Japan.
 
The European Union said that rules should be part of the core of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
 
In this context, it cited, in particular, the importance of work on developing disciplines on horizontal subsidies.
 
According to trade officials, Egypt said that there should be no ‘cherry-picking' of the rules issues, further stressing that the DDA mandates must be respected, as well as the interests of developing countries.
 
St. Lucia, on behalf of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) and the SVEs (Small and Vulnerable Economies) Groups, said that they support the work on fisheries subsidies in order to safeguard resources, provided there is sufficient special and differential treatment (S&D) for developing countries.
 
The Russian Federation said that it shares the views of delegations with respect to the crucial importance of rules.
 
It however said that members have to be careful and sensitive in pursuing the work.
 
According to trade officials, India underlined that there is need first to see progress in the key areas (agriculture, non-agricultural market access and services) before members could come back to rules.
 
It also stressed the need to avoid cherry-picking on rules issues.
 
The US agreed that focus on rules would be premature without progress in the key market access areas.
 
Expressing support for the statement of the Friends of Fish group, the US also said that it is mindful that anti-dumping has been the subject of disputes.
 
[The US has a large number of un-implemented rulings and recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body on the anti-dumping (‘zeroing') issue, rulings that need changes in US statutes for implementation.]
 
According to trade officials, at the end of the informal meeting, the Chair highlighted several points.
 
On the elements to be included in the rules work programme, he said that this is in the hands of the members.
 
The issue of fish (fisheries subsidies) has been raised as well as the issue of anti-dumping, he added.
 
According to Ambassador McCook, the work programme will be based on a convergence of views at a discussion to be held at a later stage.
 
Delegations must reflect on what the other delegations have said, the Chair added.
 
On the leadership role of the Chair, Ambassador McCook underscored that the Chair will not take any particular initiative.
 
The current consultations do not signal that any intensified work on rules will be timely, he said, adding that he remains available for consultations.
 
The Chair also said that he will be testing the temperature and will be consulting with other chairs, and that all members should stay tuned as to what happens in the key areas.
 
On the single undertaking, the Chair said that members will decide what goes into the work programme.
 
We are still waiting for the time when we could have a focused discussion on rules, said the Chair, adding that some members want greater clarity in the core areas before focused discussion on rules.
 
According to trade officials, Ambassador McCook told delegations that the ball is in their hands but that he is also on the field.

 


BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER