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
"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
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
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
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. +