Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec14/03)
15 December 2014
Third World Network
Members voice their views on upcoming post-Bali work
Published in SUNS #7936 dated 12 December 2014
Geneva, 11 Dec (Kanaga Raja) -- The end-of-year General Council meeting
on 10-11 December, amongst others, heard Members voicing a range of
views on what priority issues they would like to see incorporated
into the post-Bali work programme for concluding the Doha Round.
The General Council decision of 27 November on the post-Bali work
has set a deadline of July 2015 for agreeing on the work programme
that was mandated in the Bali Declaration.
The views of delegations at the General Council meeting on 10 December
came following a statement by Director-General Roberto Azevedo under
the agenda item of report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations
In their interventions, developing countries, amongst others, stressed
on the development dimension of the Doha Round and on special and
differential treatment (S&D) for developing countries. They also
said that the Rev. 4 draft agriculture modalities text of December
2008 and the Rev. 3 draft NAMA modalities text also of December 2008
should be the basis for the negotiations.
The G-20 said that agriculture is the key and will be the benchmark
for the landing zone in the other areas of the negotiations.
STATEMENT BY THE CHAIR OF THE TNC
Speaking in his capacity as Chair of the TNC, the D-G recalled that
the Special General Council meeting had taken the decisions which
broke the impasse on the implementation of the Bali package, and "the
task before us now is to deliver on the commitments that we made there."
Azevedo also reported that the first valid instrument of acceptance
for the Trade Facilitation Agreement Protocol had been deposited by
Hong Kong-China on Monday.
The new deadline of July 2015 for developing the work programme on
the remaining DDA (Doha Development Agenda) issues already looms large,
Consultations have restarted through the Negotiating Bodies, and he
had met with the Negotiating Chairs twice already since then.
In a brief report on their work so far, he said Members are beginning
to re-engage and put the work back on track. By the end of December
most of the chairs will have convened meetings on the way forward
- and further meetings are being planned for January.
"We need to keep building on this momentum," said the D-G,
highlighting some ingredients that will be needed if members want
to be successful.
"One first ingredient will be to maintain a sense of urgency.
Second, when it comes to the substance, I think we need to take an
approach that is reasonable and pragmatic."
He urged members to focus not only on "what is truly, truly important
for you now - but also to think about what is doable."
Third, is the need for a very high degree of engagement from all delegations,
and ensure that capitals are tuned in to the discussions. "Their
engagement and readiness to make important political calls on how
we move forward will be crucial."
Fourth, members' engagement will need to be deep, detailed and broad.
An urgent, horizontal and reasonable but full engagement across the
board is needed.
To this end, Azevedo said he plans to hold informal TNC meetings at
the Heads of Delegations level starting on 21 January.
"2015 is going to be a big year for the WTO. We have important
work to do and real deadlines to meet. We will hold our 10th Ministerial
Conference. We will celebrate our 20th anniversary. So let's make
sure that it's a year to remember," the D-G concluded.
DELEGATIONS' VIEWS ON POST-BALI WORK
Speaking following the report by the Chair of the TNC, Indonesia,
on behalf of the G-33, said the development agenda of the Doha Round
is critical and that special and differential treatment (S&D)
is vitally important.
According to trade officials, Indonesia also stressed on the importance
of food security, livelihood security and rural development issues,
as well as the implementation of all Bali issues, in particular, the
issue pertaining to public stockholding for food security purposes.
It urged members to engage on the basis of the July proposal made
by the G-33.
It said that Special Products (SP) and the Special Safeguard Mechanism
(SSM) must be included. The Rev. 4 draft agriculture modalities text
should be the basis for the negotiations.
Uganda, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), said that
in 2013, the LDCs' share in world merchandise trade was notoriously
stuck at 1%, with a staggering deficit of US$60 billion, and that
their participation in world services exports was not any better.
It was a paltry 0.68 percent.
"We had a widening trade balance of commercial services and registered
a deficit of US$41 billion. There is limited diversification and most
of our members are net importers. The biggest challenge remains how
to integrate into world services trade."
From the foregoing, it is no secret that the LDCs remain the weakest
and the most vulnerable members of this Multilateral Trading System.
"It is also unfortunately clear that we have fallen short of
meeting the development aspirations of the framers of the Doha Declaration,"
It recalled that on 21 July 2014, the LDCs had submitted a collective
request to the Council for Trade in Services. The ultimate objective
of that collective request on the operationalization of the LDCs services
waiver is to help the LDCs increase their participation in services
The LDCs had proposed 21 January 2015 as the date for the high-level
meeting in line with the Ministerial Decision. However, in informal
discussions held with members, the LDCs have tentatively agreed on
5-6 February 2015, taking into account some already scheduled calendar
Uganda said that the LDCs therefore look forward to the high-level
meeting where non-LDC members in a position to do so shall indicate
sectors and modes of supply where they intend to provide preferential
treatment to LDC services and service suppliers, which have commercial
value and promote economic benefits to them.
On the work programme, Uganda said that while agriculture will set
the level of ambition in the negotiations, there should be balance
between agriculture, NAMA and services. Development should be the
centre of these negotiations and the principle of the Single Undertaking
should be preserved in line with paragraph 47 (of the Doha Declaration).
"We must focus on the conclusion of the DDA without introducing
new issues. The draft modalities texts should be the basis of our
negotiations. Language on special and differential treatment for LDCs
and developing countries should be preserved. Further, we would be
interested in discussions on domestic supports especially those that
distort the market as well as export competition in line with the
Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration," said Uganda.
On Special and Differential Treatment, the LDCs believe that work
should proceed along the lines of the mandate enshrined in Paragraph
44 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
"People are always asking: what do LDCs want? Well, in response,
we want to harvest legally binding and meaningful LDC specific outcomes
across the board," said Uganda.
According to trade officials, Chinese Taipei, on behalf of the Recently
Acceded Members (RAMs), said that the RAMs have already made extensive
and deep commitments, much deeper than many previously acceding countries.
It said that the Rev. 4 agriculture and Rev. 3 NAMA texts should be
the basis for future negotiations. The issues of agriculture, NAMA
and services are inter-connected and should be tackled together. There
is need to set objectives that are doable.
Lesotho, on behalf of the African Group, aligned itself with the ACP
and LDC statements. It welcomed the adoption of the three General
Council Decisions taken recently, adding that these decisions have
indeed set the work of the DDA in motion.
The African Group also welcomed the establishment of the dedicated
website for the TFAF (Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility), and
looked forward towards its full operation in order to assist in facilitating
the implementation (of the TFA). The Group looked forward to engaging
with members in the weeks to come.
Brazil, on behalf of the G-20, said that there is need to follow the
Doha mandate and for S&D. Agriculture is the key and will be the
benchmark for the landing zone in other areas.
The Rev. 4 agriculture text remains the basis for a successful outcome.
Export subsidies should be eliminated in line with the Hong Kong Ministerial
Declaration of 2005 and the 2013 Bali outcome, it said.
Speaking for itself, Brazil said that the multilateral approach is
the way forward as far as it is concerned.
Kenya, on behalf of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group
of countries, recalled the Group's deep appreciation for the decisions
taken last week on food security, trade facilitation and on the post-Bali
The decisions should help in restoring the momentum on the implementation
of the Bali Package, it said.
From the ACP perspective, some members of the Group already have public
stockholding policies for food security purposes in place and a number
of their schemes contain elements of price support.
"While most ACP countries are well within their de minimis commitments,
we should not completely discard any utility and certainty of the
peace clause. On future schemes, ACP could benefit from a permanent
solution that fully takes into account the situation and specific
challenges facing ACP countries."
With respect to the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, the ACP
said, "we must now move quickly to fully operationalize it."
On the post-Bali work program, Kenya said that the ACP Group has now
moved to the next phase of preparing a modalities-type work program
as an input into the work of the TNC and the negotiating groups.
"Firstly, we must deliver the mandate on S&D and we are looking
forward for constructive engagement. An outcome on S&D is critical
in enhancing the development content of the DDA and to concluding
the Doha Round. Secondly, on market access, we emphasize that our
interests, in particular, the flexibilities, should be preserved based
on Rev. 3 for NAMA and Rev. 4 for agriculture."
For services, the ACP Group emphasized the need for concrete commitments
in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to the members of
the Group which includes tourism; transport and travel; professional
services, and other business services; and Mode 4.
In addition, "we must preserve the cardinal flexibilities for
developing countries and LDCs inscribed in the General Agreement on
Trade in Services (GATS) in any approach that may surface."
The ACP Group strongly urged Members, in a position to do so, to participate
in the LDC services waiver high level meeting and provide meaningful
preferences in response to their collective request consistent with
the timetable agreed by Ministers in Bali.
According to trade officials, Australia, on behalf of the Cairns Group,
welcomed the resumption of work. The work programme needs to focus
on what is doable. There also needs to be a balanced outcome and for
balance in each of the three pillars in agriculture (domestic support,
export competition and market access), it said.
Switzerland, for the G-10, said that it is keen to engage. The three
pillars in agriculture are clearly interconnected and must be seen
from the point of view of the overall Doha Development Agenda.
Guatemala, on behalf of the Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs),
called for a transparent, inclusive and bottom-up approach that allows
all members to participate.
The development dimension is an objective that must be achieved. This
is particularly important in agriculture, it said, adding that there
needs to be focus on the Rev. 4 agriculture text as the basis for
the negotiations. The flexibilities in the Rev. 3 NAMA text should
be extended and maintained for SVEs.
Jordan, on behalf of the Arab Group, said that there should be no
new issues until the Doha Round is concluded. The Single Undertaking
is the only principle to ensure the right balance. It also stressed
India (represented by Ambassador Anjali Prasad) associated itself
with the G-20 and G-33 statements. It said that members are entering
an important phase in the negotiations.
"It is our shared responsibility to step up our efforts to prepare
a clearly defined post-Bali Work Program on the remaining DDA issues
central to the conclusion of the Round, as mandated in Para 1.11 of
the Bali Ministerial Declaration, as well as advancing the discussion
on all Bali Ministerial and related subsequent Decisions."
According to India, the ambition levels on the market access pillars
- agriculture, NAMA and services, and in clarifying and improving
disciplines in various negotiating areas would need coherence.
It is understood that the level of ambition across the negotiating
areas would be governed by agriculture. A search for the right level
of ambition is an important exercise, which would require a frank
exchange of views among members in the coming days and weeks. This
will need to be done respecting the existing mandate and progress
already achieved in the negotiations, so far, it said.
India further said, "we have an opportunity in this Round to
correct the inequities and imbalances in global trade rules, particularly
in agriculture. Equally important would be to ensure outcomes that
deliver on the promise of ‘development' in the most effective manner
and ensure that trade works as an engine of growth and development
with substantial benefits for the weakest members of the WTO."
Members should seek equitable, balanced and development-oriented outcomes
through an inclusive and transparent process, while respecting the
spirit of para 47 of the Doha Declaration, it said.
India said it has never been enthusiastic about selective segmentation
of the negotiating mandate. "We should, therefore, desist from
any temptation towards cherry picking issues for early harvests. Instead
we should work towards seeking balanced progress in all areas of the
negotiations so as to arrive at an early conclusion of the Round."
According to trade officials, Cuba said that agriculture will determine
the level of ambition and that the Rev. 4 agriculture text should
be the basis for the negotiations.
Zimbabwe supported the African Group and ACP statements.
China supported the G-33, G-20 and the RAM statements. The Rev. 4
agriculture and Rev. 3 NAMA texts should be the basis for the negotiations.
According to trade officials, the United States, on the post-Bali
work programme, said that members need to work in a way that offers
sensible ways to move forward. It is fully engaged in evaluating agriculture,
NAMA and services. Members need to start looking at a horizontal approach
and to strike a balance between ambition and doability.
On the ITA-II talks (on expanding the product coverage under the Information
Technology Agreement), the US said that the ITA negotiations can send
a very important signal at the end of the year. It is a critical week
for the ITA talks. It said that this would be the first tariff-cutting
agreement in the WTO since ITA-I (which was agreed in 1996 but implemented
Expressing concerns over statements made by some governments about
not favouring plurilateral agreements, the US said that there is a
very important multilateral element to the ITA.
According to the US, while there are only 54 participants, the important
multilateral side to this is the benefit, in that the tariff elimination
(on IT products) in these 54 countries would be extended to all WTO
members via the MFN principle.
Argentina endorsed the G-20 and Cairns Group statements. It stressed
that agriculture is the most important element in the negotiations,
the backbone of development in the Doha Round. Export subsidies must
be eliminated, it added.
The European Union said that members need to move forward in the best
possible conditions. It cited parallelism, simplification and proper
respect for red-lines.
SEYCHELLES' ACCESSION TO THE WTO
Under a separate agenda item, the General Council formally adopted
the Protocol of Accession and the Working Party Report of the Republic
of Seychelles, paving the way for it to become the 161st member of
Seychelles had applied for membership to the WTO back in 1995 and
the Working Party on its accession had concluded negotiations this
The Seychelles parliament will now have to ratify the accession package
by 1 June 2015, and it will become a member of the WTO 30 days after
it notifies the Secretariat of the ratification.
According to information posted on the WTO website, in the area of
goods, Seychelles has undertaken to bind tariff rates for all products
at 9.5 per cent on average. For agricultural products, the average
is 16.9 per cent, and for non-agricultural products, the average is
8.3 per cent. Seychelles has also made specific commitments in 11
services sectors, including 97 sub-sectors.
At a media briefing following the signing of the Protocol of Accession
by Mr Pierre Laporte, Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment of
the Seychelles, Director-General Azevedo congratulated Seychelles
for concluding the accession negotiations, saying that the process
was a long one.
"We had 20 years to get here," he said, adding however that
the more intense negotiations took place in the last five years.
He said that the accession to the WTO is just a platform to enhance
the integration of the acceding member into the global economy - in
this case Seychelles - to boost growth and development in that country.
He highlighted that this is a particularly important year whereby
the International Year of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
is being celebrated. He added that approximately 98% of world trade
is now being covered by the WTO with the accession of Seychelles.
Minister Laporte said that the accession process was a very arduous
one. Being a small island economy is even more important for Seychelles
as to why it has to be part of the international institutions, he
He said that the Seychelles accession package will now be taken to
Parliament and (he will) try to have it ratified before the end of
December or early next year and "we are confident that Seychelles
by all means will be a WTO member in the first quarter of 2015."
DATE AND VENUE OF MC10
Under another agenda item, the General Council agreed that Nairobi,
Kenya will be the host city for the WTO's tenth session of its Ministerial
Conference (MC10) to take place from 15-18 December 2015.
According to trade officials, Ms Amina C. Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Kenya, who
was present in Geneva for the General Council meeting, said that President
Kenyatta had asked to convey his sincere and heartfelt appreciation
for choosing Kenya as host for MC10.
She said that they are not only representing Kenya but have presented
their candidacy on behalf of the whole of Africa - 42 WTO Members
and those in the process of accession. So, they are accepting this
on behalf of the whole of the African continent.
As to what Africa and Kenya in particular would like to achieve at
MC10, she said that Africa would like to see that at least two-thirds
of WTO members, if not all, have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement,
so that it would be in force by that time.
Ms Mohammed also said that Africa and Kenya would like to see a broad-based
and balanced post-Bali work programme achieved by the target date
of 31 July 2015. It needs to be something that responds to the current
situation in the global economy.
According to trade officials, Turkey, which had earlier withdrawn
its own candidacy to host MC10, thanked Ms Mohammed, saying that her
presence here is a very encouraging and reassuring signal that there
will be a successful organisation of MC10. +