Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept14/09)
26 September 2014
Third World Network
consensus on advancing work on NAMA, says Chair
Published in SUNS #7880 dated 24 September 2014
Geneva, 23 Sep (Kanaga Raja) -- The Chair of the Negotiating Group
on Non-agricultural Market Access (NAMA) on Monday said that he will
report to the Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) that
there is no consensus on continuing work on the NAMA negotiations
or on establishing a post-Bali work programme.
The TNC, chaired by Director-General Roberto Azevedo, is scheduled
to hold its next meeting on 6 October.
At the informal meeting of the NAMA Negotiating Group, which was called
to hear the views of members on the way ahead in the negotiations,
the Chair, Ambassador Remigi Winzap of Switzerland, in his concluding
remarks, highlighted three positions that emerged at the informal
(1) Some members want to continue the work;
(2) Some members hope that consultations to break the current deadlock
would be positive and would allow for the continuation of the work;
(3) Some members say that under the current circumstances, work cannot
continue as if nothing had happened.
[A meeting of the General Council that was held on 25 July to discuss
the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was suspended on account of
a lack of consensus on the Protocol of Amendment that, if adopted,
would have brought into legal effect the TFA.
[At that meeting, India had made a strong statement wherein it had
said that the TFA must be implemented only as part of a single undertaking
including the permanent solution on food security. India had received
support from Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela, who had said that they will
have difficulty joining a consensus on the Protocol while no progress
has been made on the areas of interest to developing countries.
[Just a couple of hours or so before the 31 July midnight deadline
for the adoption of the Protocol was to pass, an informal TNC meeting
was held, at which the Director-General had reported that at present
"there is no workable solution on the table" and that he
did not have any indication that one will be forthcoming.
[As a result, the General Council agenda item of report by the Chairman
of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation was closed without
further action and the General Council meeting, suspended on 25 July,
was formally closed without a protocol being adopted (see SUNS #7856
dated 4 August 2014).]
According to trade officials, at the informal NAMA meeting on Monday,
the United States, Japan, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand,
Norway, Canada and Switzerland were of the view that work cannot continue
because trust has been broken due to the failure to adopt the TFA
protocol by 31 July as was agreed at the Bali Ministerial Conference
On the other hand, China, Egypt, South Africa and India stressed the
need to continue work in the other areas of the Doha Development Agenda
(DDA), in particular on establishing a work programme to that end.
According to trade officials, they said that trade facilitation is
not the only item on the agenda and that there are other areas that
are also important.
According to trade officials, India also supported China, which said
that it did not support the notion to stop work.
According to China, a TFA is needed but so is a post-Bali work programme.
There is need to re-engage on the work programme, it said, adding
that it is urgent to regain confidence.
According to trade officials, India also said that members need to
use this time to continue the work.
"I don't have a clear view on what you want", said the NAMA
Chair, in reference to the report that he will be producing for the
upcoming TNC meeting.
According to trade officials, Ambassador Winzap said: "I don't
see how I can advance work in NAMA under the circumstances; and if
there is no NAMA, there is no Agriculture and no DDA".
The Chair also said that he could not agree with a member (Egypt)
that had told him that in his report to the TNC, he did not need to
According to trade officials, South Africa said that in his report
to the Chair of the TNC, the NAMA Chair should avoid stating his personal
In the meanwhile, the WTO head, Mr. Azevedo, addressing UNCTAD's Trade
and Development Board Monday, warned of a "freezing effect"
on WTO work from the impasse on the Bali package.
Azevedo told the Board that "at present, the future is uncertain";
if the impasse is not solved "many areas of our work may suffer
a freezing effect, including the areas of greatest interest to developing
countries, such as agriculture".
Speaking of the Bali package and the decisions on the package and
the post-Bali work programme on the Doha round, Azevedo said all of
this is now at risk, because of the missed deadline on TF.
He had met all WTO members on 15 September, and he was continuing
with his own consultations, "but at this point we don't have
We will have another meeting of all members on 6 October, and at that
time we will reassess the situation in the light of this process of
consultations. Our priority now is to ensure the implementation of
the Bali Package, he said.
There seems to be a clear interplay between concerns on the negotiations
on public stockholding and the implementation of the TFA.
Both public stockholding programmes and trade facilitation were issues
addressed by the Bali decisions, he said.
There is no formal or legal linkage between these two issues, but
"we cannot deny that there is an important political link bringing
"At present the future is uncertain. If we solve this issue,
I am confident that we will be able to look ahead and resume our efforts
in the broader negotiating agenda.
"If we do not, members will have to think carefully about what
the consequences are. It would impact on the TF Agreement itself,
and all the other Bali decisions - including those that benefit LDCs,
the negotiating function of the WTO. My assessment is that we risk
disengagement if we don't solve this impasse shortly," he said.