Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept14/08)
26 September 2014
Third World Network
US and allies ‘strike work' on post-Bali, Doha
Published in SUNS #7880 dated 24 September 2014
Geneva, 23 Sep (Chakravarthi Raghavan*) -- The United States and its
close ‘allies' in industrialised countries, appear to be bent on continuing
their campaign to paralyse all negotiations and talks at the WTO -
on the other parts of the Bali package, a post-Bali work programme,
and the Doha Round - by refusing ‘to work' on other issues, until
the US-EU cherished protocol on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)
is agreed to and delivered.
Work on the protocol for incorporating the TFA into the WTO Agreement's
Annex 1A has been blocked by India and a few others, without equivalent
progress on implementing the other parts of the Bali package including
on food security and the LDC package, which at Bali were adopted on
a ‘best endeavour' basis.
At the General Council in July, India had refused any consensus on
taking up and adopting the TFA without comparable progress on the
food security issue, the LDC package and other parts of the Bali package
(see SUNS #7856 dated 4 August 2014).
Since then, at various meetings - BRICS, the G20 trade ministers and
other such fora, as also at the WTO since meetings began after the
summer recess - India has stuck to its position, undeterred by the
vehement campaign against it in the ‘mainstream media', echoed by
several leading sections of the Indian media too.
Since the WTO resumed in Geneva after Bali, while work on TF moved
ahead, with the WTO DG and secretariat, at full breathless speed,
both in putting into legal language the Bali decision on TF and on
a draft protocol on the TFA, on all other parts of the Bali package
of decisions, there has been no negotiations to move them forward.
And various statements of the US, both in Geneva and elsewhere, have
little doubt that as far as the US and EU are concerned they wanted
from the WTO and the Doha talks, only the TFA, and when that is delivered
they have no further interest in the Doha Round, the Bali package
or the post-Bali work programme, but would talk them out or use them
to end the Doha agenda and bring on new issues.
The US stance on services talks at the CTS last week has also to be
seen from its drive for a separate plurilateral negotiations on ‘Trade
in Services Agreement' or TISA, with its chapter on financial services
aiming for full liberalisation of trade in financial services with
very few exceptions and restricting ability of countries to adopt
any regulations, prudential or otherwise, that would come in the way
of US financial service providers repeating on a global scale their
activities on the US market that created the 2008 crisis, from which
everyone has suffered, while US financial firms and traders, rescued
by the state, are continuing in their merry way, garnering more and
higher benefits for themselves.
This latest tactic of the US, and the moribund ‘quad' (US, EU, Canada
and Japan) was made clear last week at the Council for Trade in Services
Once upon a time these four dictated things in the old GATT and then
the WTO. However, after the failure of the WTO's Ministerial meet
at Cancun in 2003, and the partial resurrection of the Doha Round
via the July 2004 package agreement at the General Council, evolved
by Brazil, India and a few others, it became clear that the old decision-makers
could no longer decide and force the trading system to agree. The
‘Quad' then gave way to the new grouping of US, EU, Brazil, India,
China and a few others on an ad hoc basis.
At last week's CTS, the old quad met and came to the meeting to act
in an orchestrated and coordinated way, with some other industrialised
nations and a few developing countries joining them and hanging on
to the US coat tails.
The CTS is negotiating on mandated (to begin from 1995) work under
CTS (including on drawing up disciplines on Emergency Safeguards under
Art X and on Subsidies under Art XV), and further liberalization of
services in all four modes of delivery, negotiations that were actually
launched in 2000, and when in November 2001, was rolled into the Doha
Work Programme and its Single Undertaking.
On Friday last, at the special session of the CTS where the Doha negotiations
on services are held, the US and its friends announced that there
will be no further discussions or negotiations by them on these until
the TFA and its protocol are signed, sealed and delivered to them.
The US blamed the deadlock on this and other post-Bali work programme,
as well as work on delivering on the rest of the Bali package, on
what it called "the intransigence" of one member, India
with some of its friends, in blocking adoption of the TFA protocol.
China, India, South Africa and a few others insisted they saw no justification,
and viewed the services negotiations as on a separate track from the
TF issue, and part of the Doha Single Undertaking.
Interestingly, until this post-Bali development on TF, it has been
the US that has been consistently intransigent: it has repeatedly
said no, as the sole nation, holding up the agri-modalities text of
2008 (which has a provision to meet the issues of food security, and
the market support price of developing countries, procuring from farmers
to use on subsidised food to consumers, pegged at the 1986-88 commodity
The US has blocked the 2008 modalities text, since it will curb US
support programmes to its farming sector.
The US has also blocked and not agreed to ending its Cotton subsidies,
or agreed to the benefits promised to least developed countries -
duty-free-quota-free market access for LDC products. Most other nations,
developed and developing, with some product exceptions, have already
provided such access in a unilateral way.
The US, the richest nation still in the world economy, alone has been
refusing to agree to this trade benefit to the poorest nations of
Perhaps the major developing nations and their leaders have to blame
themselves for this state of affairs.
As early as 2010, at the Toronto summit meeting of the G20 nations,
it would appear that President Barack Obama in his remarks to the
meeting of the G20 heads of government/state made clear that he had
no interest in concluding the Doha Round, as US calculations had shown
that if the Round was concluded, the additional benefit to the US
would be no more than a day's worth of exports.
At the time of that Toronto summit, Obama's economic honcho who was
the sherpa was Mr. Froman, now the USTR, who is carrying on with that
policy perspective even now.
The heads of developing nations at that Toronto summit, who presumably
had heard Obama, however chose to ignore it, perhaps thinking that
after the 2012 Presidential elections, Mr. Obama would change.
And they have continued to negotiate with the US in the belief things
would change, or some of them share a reported view of the WTO DG,
Mr. Azevedo, that the US has to be kept engaged at the WTO, and if
this involves giving in to the US, and making repeated concessions
without any benefit, it should be done, so that the US will remain
engaged, and may be will change its views in future.