Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jun15/10)
10 June 2015
Third World Network
Developing countries denounce re-calibration approach to end DDR
Published in SUNS #8036 dated 8 June 2015
Geneva, 5 Jun (D. Ravi Kanth) -- Trade ministers of leading developing
countries denounced at Paris on Thursday (June 4) attempts by major
developed countries to force a decision on the so-called "re-calibration"
approach to lower the level of ambition of the post-Bali work program
to conclude the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations later this
year, several officials said.
The developing country ministers at the meeting said the re-calibration
approach is aimed at pushing the most difficult issues (for developed
nations) such as trade-distorting farm subsidies and other developmental
issues like the cotton subsidies and duty-free and quota-free market
access for the poorest countries into cold storage, a developing country
trade minister told the SUNS.
At the informal trade ministerial meeting convened on the margins
of the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) meeting in Paris on June 4, the developing country trade ministers
from India, Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia among others demanded
a comprehensive post-Bali work program for concluding the DDA negotiations.
In sharp opposition, major developed countries - the United States,
the European Union, Japan, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and New
Zealand - and some developing countries reiterated their position
that the level of ambition must be re-calibrated on the basis of the
so-called "doability" and "realism" criterion.
The US deputy trade representative Ambassador Michael Punke told the
meeting that Washington is pursuing the re-calibration approach to
bolster the efforts of the World Trade Organization Director-General
Roberto Azevedo who had suggested the idea.
India's trade minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered a strong statement
at the meeting by emphasizing that the "development dimension
with enhanced special and differential flexibilities" must remain
at the centre of the post-Bali work program.
"To conclude the Round on the basis of market access is unacceptable,"
Minister Sitharaman told trade ministers present at the meeting.
Ambition in agriculture depends on the reform of the trade-distorting
domestic subsidies based on the revised 2008 modalities, the Indian
Minister Sitharaman criticized some industrialized countries for diverting
attention from their trade-distorting domestic subsidy reduction commitments
by raising issues that are not part of the Doha mandate.
For India, she said, issues such as "the special safeguard mechanism
(SSM), the special products, the permanent solution for public stockholding
programs for food security, and the LDC package are ‘must haves' in
the post- Bali work program," according to a trade official who
was present at the meeting.
South Africa's trade minister Rob Davies lamented that efforts to
bring about re-calibration was carried out on an uneven basis in which
the level of ambition in agriculture is drastically reduced while
the reverse was sought to be done in market access for industrial
Davies said African countries need policy space for carrying out industrial
policies which will become difficult with the increase in the ambition
in market access for industrial goods.
Brazil said while services and industrial goods are getting special
treatment, laggards like agriculture are left behind.
China, Brazil, South Africa, and Argentina among others supported
India by demanding a comprehensive post- Bali work program for delivering
the results promised in the DDA.
The United States deputy trade representative Michael Punke sharply
disagreed with the demands made by the developing country trade ministers
for a robust post-Bali work program to address all issues in the three
pillars of the agriculture package. Ambassador Punke said there is
little evidence of any convergence on any issue at this juncture,
said an official familiar with the meeting.
The US official suggested that "red lines" of India, China,
and the US don't overlap. Ambassador Punke said there are only two
options open to members. Either accept a re-calibration or face failure
at the tenth ministerial conference in Nairobi, Kenya, said a participant
who asked not to be quoted.
The EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom suggested that there is
no need for extending tariff rate quotas in agriculture with the average
"There is no realistic assessment on issues among ministers at
this juncture," an EU official said.
It is unfortunate that there is little common ground at this critical
juncture among ministers present at the meeting, another trade official
Faced with unbridgeable differences on the elements to be pursued
in the post-Bali work program, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo
said there is no deal as of today.
Kenya's foreign minister Amina C Mohammed, who will chair the tenth
ministerial meeting in her capital Nairobi, expressed sharp concern
that there is no common ground among members at this juncture.
Trade ministers and senior officials from 29 countries such as 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
took part in the meeting.
The Kenyan minister Mohammed chaired the informal ministerial meeting
in the absence of the Australian trade minister Andrew Robb (who had
convened the meeting).
Azevedo gave his assessment on the state of play in the negotiations
following his recent consultations with trade envoys in different
In her statement, the Kenyan minister gave her assessment, both on
the process-related issues and the substantive items that must be
included in the work program.
She urged the trade ministers to provide the "focus and direction"
to ensure that there is no slippage in the process.
Minister Mohammed said "we must get the business of the WTO done
by working in workable, different, but complimentary formats and configurations
linked to transparency exercises in plenary meetings at appropriate
On substance, she said, the post-Bali work program must be "realistic,
balanced, and which modernizes and updates the WTO negotiating agenda
and puts the WTO back in centre field."
The Kenyan minister said "the work program should be substantively
robust, reflect the fundamentals in the Doha agenda and issues that
will ensure that the WTO is relevant and adaptable."
It must not be a wish list and divide the membership, she cautioned.
"Doha never died," she said, arguing that "the work
program should facilitate closure on Doha."
The work program "must include agriculture, including an outcome
on cotton and an understanding on food security, services, NAMA, trade
and environment, fishery subsidies, and an expanded information and
technology agreement," the Kenyan minister argued. +