Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun15/08)
9 June 2015
Third World Network
Still no clarity on Doha re-calibration, simplification, says India
Published in SUNS #8034 dated 4 June 2015
Geneva, 3 Jun (Kanaga Raja) -- There is still no clarity on re-calibration,
simplification and doabilities, India told an informal meeting at
the level of Heads of Delegation (HOD) at the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) on Monday (1 June).
Speaking following a report by Director-General Roberto Azevedo at
the informal meeting which was held in Room W, India reportedly said
that as it seems to have been the case over the last few weeks of
discussions, there is no visible proponent of re-calibration and simplification.
How do members arrive at the elements of the so-called re-calibrated
package in such a situation, it asked.
India called on the proponents of the re-calibration and simplification
approaches to take the responsibility of tabling comprehensive, self-contained
proposals and not expect the rest of the membership to react to broad
concepts that have not been fully fleshed out.
The informal meeting was convened by the D-G to report on the current
state of play in the negotiations on the post-Bali work programme
to conclude the Doha Round.
In remarks that were posted on the WTO website as a news item, the
D-G said: "We are still seeing good engagement - and this is
positive. We have been having detailed conversations across a range
of issues, and in some areas we are seeing progress. However, on the
basis of the discussions I have had over recent weeks, I am becoming
increasingly concerned that we are not making the progress that is
needed in the key areas of agriculture, industrial products and services.
"Agreeing on a work programme was never going to be an easy task.
But as of today we are still waiting for the necessary convergence
on key issues in order to deliver the outcome we need by July and
to help us build towards a successful ministerial meeting in Nairobi
The post at the WTO website continued, "Commenting on the forward
process, the Director-General said: I will ensure that meetings of
the full membership are held even more frequently from now on to ensure
that members are fully briefed on all aspects of the negotiations.
This will be essential to ensure that the necessary political calls
can be taken in due course."
According to trade officials, Azevedo had made a long statement at
the informal meeting - some 40 pages long.
The DG is very concerned about the width of the gaps that separate
countries and the very slow pace at which governments seem to be realising
the situation in which we find ourselves, trade officials added.
According to trade officials, there has been no movement on the big
issues. On the issue of domestic support, the Special Safeguard Mechanism
(SSM), and on the alternative approaches to market access, there has
been no real movement.
On export competition, there is an understanding that this issue is
much further along than either domestic support or agricultural market
access, but there is no clear idea as to when this issue might be
On issues like monetising food aid, members seem to have gone backwards.
According to trade officials, the D-G mentioned that he has been called
to participate in meetings of other groups organised by delegations.
Referring to the group of seven major players, trade officials said
that the D-G was concerned about the fact that there was a great deal
of "inaccurate reporting" on what specific delegations said.
Delegations are exploring different kinds of approaches without instructions
from capitals. If there is erroneous reporting on what they have said
- and obviously someone inside these meetings is leaking this - then
people are going to be very reluctant to try and offer up any kind
of creative ways forward, trade officials reported the DG as having
If people are interested in finding solutions, they need to be respectful
of those who are trying to find alternative approaches, they added.
Reportedly some 25 delegations spoke following the report by the D-G,
but trade officials would not provide any information on what delegations
Pointing to the active engagement in the past few weeks and that new
ideas and proposals have been presented by members, India was reported
by others as saying that it finds however that the major developed
members are still talking in generalities, both in the areas where
they are defensive and in areas where they have traditionally been
demandeurs, although, at times, they seem to say that they are not
demandeurs for anything in this Round.
India expressed concern that there was still no clarity on re-calibration,
simplification and doabilities.
It had heard members say that it was the responsibility of proponents
to get consensus, adding that if that were to be so, then the proponents
of re-calibration and simplification should take the responsibility
of tabling comprehensive, self-contained proposals and not expect
the rest of the membership to react to broad concepts that have not
been fully fleshed out.
It noted that no convergence has so far been visible on the ideas
that have been floated as alternatives to the Rev. 3 draft modalities
text in non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and Rev. 4 draft modalities
text in Agriculture.
India was concerned that efforts are being made to advance discussions
in the market access pillars of agriculture and NAMA without clarity
on the other pillars.
Since it is agreed that agriculture should drive the level of ambition
in the Doha Round, the front-loading of the discussion on all its
elements with more sincere engagement is needed.
On non-core areas such as Rules, India said that it can get into substantive
discussion only after there is clarity on the ambition level in the
Discussions in these areas at this juncture could take place vertically
pillar by pillar rather than attempting a horizontal discussion and
prejudging elements that are "sure" to be part of an outcome
which India said it does not support.
India also said that re-calibration with a lowering of ambition cannot
happen if it is not symmetrical across all areas of the negotiation.
Raising ambition by seeking a higher contribution from developing
members with a simultaneous lowering of ambition for developed members
is incongruous and unacceptable.
Noting that a Nairobi "make-it-or-break-it" narrative has
already started, in calling for the conclusion of the Doha Round at
this undefined so-called low level of ambition, India said that it
did not accept this narrative and believes that the Round cannot be
concluded without a credible outcome on the development dimension
that meets the interests of all developing countries.
According to India, the core elements of the mandate and existing
WTO legal framework as inviolable and non-negotiable.
Firstly, India referred to the treatment of all developing countries
as a homogenous category without further stratification or differentiation
in terms of the accepted level of contribution except for the LDCs.
Secondly, bound and not applied tariff levels are to form the basis
of the market access negotiations. Thirdly, exploratory issues are
to remain in that mode and not be converted into negotiations.
Fourthly, special and differential treatment and less than full reciprocity
are to be part of all the pillars of the negotiations.
Lastly, it pointed to complete transparency and inclusiveness even
if the maintenance of the tempo requires holding discussions in a
variety of formats or geometries.
According to India, all efforts should focus on developing a work
programme that is as close to the modalities as possible. A work programme
with a menu of options or with insufficient detail would be unworkable
as it would be impossible to judge the level of ambition or balance,
it said. +