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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun15/01)
1 June 2015
Third World Network

Informal mini-ministerial for Paris in June
Published in SUNS #8027 dated 26 May 2015
 
Geneva, 22 May (D. Ravi Kanth) -- Trade Ministers from around 30 countries are due to have an informal meeting in Paris in June on the sidelines of the annual ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) where the developed countries and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo are expected to renew and push their "re-calibration" approach to conclude the Doha trade negotiations, according to several trade envoys.
 
Australia has convened this informal meeting as a half-day event at the OECD headquarters in Paris to finalise the post-Bali work programme on a "re-calibration approach", the envoys told SUNS.
 
The issues sought to be thrashed out at the meeting include:
 
1. The outcomes ministers want to see in the post-Bali work programme;
 
2. Other outcomes to be achieved by the tenth ministerial conference (MC10) in Nairobi, Kenya, in December (15-18 December 2015); and
 
3. The work that needs to be done between now and the tenth ministerial conference to achieve those outcomes.
 
Canberra has invited around 30 trade ministers from developed, developing, and least-developed countries to ensure that the plan of action drawn-up in consultations with the DG is rubber-stamped at the meeting so that the DG can come back and tell members that it is agreed by trade ministers from all major regions, said an African trade envoy.
 
More importantly, the Australian trade minister Andrew Robb and his Kenyan counterpart, Amina Mohamed, who will chair the tenth ministerial conference, will showcase the decisions reached at the informal ministerial meeting as the "doable" outcomes based on the re-calibration approach, the envoy added.
 
Developing and least-developed countries remain clueless about the need for the "re-calibration" approach, particularly for whom it is being cobbled and who are its demandeurs, said another trade envoy.
 
"Is the re-calibration approach meant to kill the Doha Development Agenda on which the Round is premised," the trade envoy wondered.
 
"We know that this is the last major round to address the continued inequities in the global trading system and afterwards the WTO will be reduced to servicing the plurilateral agreements for the developed and some developing countries," the envoy added.
 
Until now, members are clearly divided on the need for re-calibration, which is being promoted by the DG and major developed countries such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada, Australia, and Switzerland among others.
 
The differences over the post-Bali work programme based on the re-calibrated framework came into the open at several meetings over the last five months.
 
The developed countries led by the United States have made a strong pitch for lowering the level of ambition so that they don't have to pay by reducing trade-distorting domestic subsidies, export subsidies, and export credits, several developing country envoys maintained.
 
At the same time, without paying any price, they want to be rewarded by market access concessions from developing countries in agriculture, industrial products and services.
 
But the large majority of developing and least-developed countries have been insisting on tackling the central issues of a development round such as reform of trade-distorting domestic subsidies in the US and EU countries along with tariff reduction commitments based on special and differential treatment (SDT) flexibilities as proposed in the existing Doha mandates.
 
They insist these must be respected for concluding the Doha Round.
 
The DG however is making a Herculean effort to set aside all the previous mandates, especially the 2008 revised draft modalities in agriculture and industrial goods so to ensure that the Round is concluded without any gains for the developing and poorest countries, said a South American trade official.
 
During his consultations with trade envoys from the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, Australia, and Japan over the past fortnight, Azevedo proposed an average formula framework without any flexibilities for replacing the tiered formula approach in agriculture products and the Swiss formula for industrial goods, the official said. (See SUNS #8023 dated 19 May 2015 and SUNS #8025 dated 21 May 2015).
 
The US, the EU, Japan, and Australia have strongly supported the DG's approach while China and India raised a host of systemic concerns based on the existing Doha mandates.
 
"It is clear that the re-calibrated approach is meant to serve the mercantilist interests of the major developed countries so that they can simply run away without undertaking the commitments that they are otherwise required to implement if the DDA negotiations are concluded on the basis of the current mandates," a trade envoy told SUNS.
 
Trade ministers from around 30 countries - Argentina, Bangladesh (LDC Group), Barbados (ACP Group), Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, European Commission, Hong Kong-China, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lesotho (Africa Group), Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Tanzania, Turkey and the United States - will take part in the half-day meeting. +

 


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