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
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
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
(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
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
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.