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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct14/03)
14 October 2014
Third World Network
 

ACP outlines principles for post-Bali work programme
Published in SUNS #7891 dated 10 October 2014
 
Geneva, 9 Oct (Kanaga Raja) -- The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in a communication on the post-Bali work programme, has called for adherence to the Single Undertaking for those areas where early agreement has been reached and for remaining areas to conclude the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), in accordance with Paragraph 47 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
 
In a communication dated 6 October, Kenya, on behalf of the ACP Group, outlining some principles for consideration in the preparation of a clearly defined post-Bali work programme and calling for adherence to the principle of the Single Undertaking, has said that development, agriculture and Least Developed Country (LDC) outcomes "must be prioritised and be concluded with tangible binding results."
 
The communication comes just as WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, in his capacity as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), has convened a formal meeting of the TNC for 16 October. This meeting is to replace an earlier scheduled meeting for 6 October that was subsequently cancelled.
 
In its communication, Kenya recalled that Ministers, under Part III of the Bali Ministerial Declaration that was adopted on 7 December 2013, had instructed "... the Trade Negotiations Committee to prepare within the next 12 months a clearly defined work program on the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues. This will build on the decisions taken at this Ministerial Conference, particularly on agriculture, development and LDC issues, as well as all other issues under the Doha mandate that are central to concluding the Round."
 
The ACP Group noted that since February this year and in subsequent meetings, the TNC Chair has laid the ground for negotiating group chairs to restart consultations with Members to test what is doable to conclude the DDA.
 
Negotiating Group chairs have held meetings both in informal open-ended and consultations format, it added.
 
In outlining its principles for defining the post-Bali Work Programme, the ACP Group underscored that the single undertaking must be adhered to for those areas where early agreement has been reached and for remaining areas to conclude the DDA, in accordance with Paragraph 47 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
 
"As affirmed in the Bali Ministerial Declaration, development, agriculture, and LDC outcomes must be prioritised and be concluded with tangible binding results," said the ACP communication.
 
The ACP Group underlined that it "by and large was not the cause of the breakdown in 2008 and in 2011." It took note of the call of some major players to update data in light of the realities today, and looked forward to the results of their work to update their data and to resolve differences among them.
 
"So far, for most ACP States, the updated data analysis shows that little has changed except that some ACP States have become further marginalised in the multilateral trading system," said Kenya.
 
Therefore, it said, a key principle for the post-Bali Work Programme is that the major partners take the leadership to conclude the DDA, with development at the core of any deal.
 
The ACP Group said it is open to any ideas that may allow Members to overcome the most critical and fundamental stumbling blocks in the negotiations and that will maintain and adapt the principles behind the flexibilities negotiated to date in favour of the ACP Group in agriculture and NAMA (non-agricultural market access), and ensure ACP States are not worse off.
 
"However, some of the new ideas floated so far should not undermine the essence of the flexibilities elaborated so far in the existing mandates in favour of developing countries and LDCs," the Group stressed.
 
According to Kenya, agriculture is a clear priority for the ACP Group. It noted that there are a number of flexibilities the group supported and fought for that must be preserved, including on SVEs (Small and Vulnerable Economies), preference erosion, Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism.
 
"Indeed, increasing price and import volatility necessitates access to an easily implementable safeguard mechanism. In addition, a satisfactory solution on cotton is long overdue and we trust that its prioritisation will result in a concrete solution on this issue," said the ACP.
 
With respect to NAMA, "our data has also changed very little," the Group underlined. "While, we are not demandeurs, we remain concerned about preference erosion, the increasing impact of non-tariff barriers, and approaches that can undermine our national developmental and regional integration efforts."
 
The ACP Group reiterated the need for clarity and Secretariat work on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), similar to the work undertaken for tariffs, saying that this would provide a complete picture of the elements affecting market access for ACP products.
 
According to the ACP communication, services is one of the three market access pillars and was, with agriculture, part of the Uruguay Round built-in agenda.
 
"Services must not be ignored by major players in the quest to fulfill the development component of the DDA negotiations," said Kenya.
 
It emphasised that consultations in the services negotiations area must also take into consideration flexibility for individual developing and least developed countries, as provided for by Article XIX: 2 and IV: 3 of the GATS and also be open-ended, so that all Members can engage on what is to be achieved under this pillar to conclude the DDA.
 
According to the communication, ACP states have identified a number of sectors and the modes of supply that will increase diversification of their economies, employment and enhance global supply chains, including services related to trade in goods as well.
 
In this regard, the ACP called on developed country Members to conclude the services pillar with full bindings in the sectors and modes of supply of paramount interest to developing countries and LDCs, particularly Mode 4 and in sectors such as tourism, transport, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), and a host of professional services that are exported by them.
 
Moreover, it is expected that Members in a position to do so will respond positively to the collective request on the LDC services waiver submitted in July in time for the high level meeting to take place six months after the submission date.
 
"If work advances in services domestic regulations negotiations and other rulemaking, the ACP Group will continue to engage on the development aspects but stresses that in the case of domestic regulations, disciplines of importance to the group that impact on market access in Mode 4 and the provision of professional services, such as qualification requirements and procedures and licensing requirements must be addressed," said the ACP communication.
 
Central to concluding the Doha Development Round includes observance of the Doha Declaration mandate in paragraph 44 for special and differential treatment together with resolution of the original 88 proposals, which are still on the table, said the ACP.
 
"These proposals must be resolved in a manner that reflects clear value to developing countries and LDCs," it stressed. +

 


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