Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept15/07)
22 September 2015
Third World Network
South demands credible, developmental outcomes at Nairobi
Published in SUNS #8096 dated 21 September 2015
Geneva, 18 Sep (D. Ravi Kanth) -- In what seemed to be a strong rebuff
to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo and the United States, a large
majority of developing and least-developed countries on Thursday (September
17) rejected ideas floated by them for cobbling a small package of
deliverables for the tenth ministerial conference in Nairobi, Kenya,
on December 15, several trade envoys told the SUNS.
At an urgently convened meeting of heads of delegations (HoD) to discuss
possible deliverables for MC10, trade envoys of the developing and
least-developed countries demanded "credible" and "developmental"
outcomes based on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
In nuanced interventions, developing countries such as China, India,
Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia on behalf of the G-33 farm group, Venezuela,
Pakistan, Lesotho on behalf of the African group, Uganda, Rwanda,
and Cuba among others said they will not accept the proposal from
the US for voluntary contributions by all to reduce domestic farm
subsidies nor allow efforts to weaken special and differential treatment.
The developing and the poorest countries said categorically that regardless
of the outcomes in Nairobi, the DDA negotiations shall continue until
there is resolution of all unresolved issues.
They expressed concern over attempts by the major developed countries,
particularly the US, to bury the DDA negotiations at Nairobi without
addressing the developmental goals, laid out in the ministerial decisions
since the launch of the negotiations in 2001 at Doha, Qatar.
In the face of such unprecedented unanimity among the developing countries
and the LDCs to ensure that there are credible outcomes at Nairobi
and that the DDA negotiations are not declared dead at Nairobi, Azevedo
concluded the meeting without indicating the way forward. The DG merely
said the picture is clear, according to a trade envoy present at the
"This is one of the rare meetings in which some developing countries
who have remained on the sidelines came out in full blast against
the ongoing efforts to close the round with a small package,"
the envoy said.
Azevedo commenced the meeting with his introductory remarks that there
is a turnaround from the first semester (January-July) in exploring
possible outcomes for the Nairobi meeting.
"The view emerging from many of the [recent] meetings in which
I have participated is that a set of deliverables is within reach,
(and) has the potential to make the [tenth] ministerial [meeting]
a success and help us move our work forward," the DG said. "And
crucially there is the common view that those deliverables should
have development and LDC issues at their heart," Azevedo emphasized.
"Once we have a clear picture of what the Nairobi outcomes might
look like, then we can work hard to deliver them," Azevedo maintained,
instead of suggesting or identifying the issues that need to be resolved
at Nairobi based on the ministerial declaration at MC9 in Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali ministerial declaration clearly stipulated accords for binding
the so-called best endeavour decisions concerning the specific issues
of the LDCs, and for resolving the remaining issues of the DDA in
agriculture, market access for industrial goods, services, rules,
and development by the tenth ministerial conference.
Although the post-Bali agenda was to be finalized by end-July this
year, it was successfully scuttled by a major developed country (the
United States) on one pretext or the other because of its farm bill
that was enacted last year.
That farm bill of the US includes subsidy programs and outlays well
beyond what was envisaged in the 2008 revised agriculture draft modalities.
The US was clearly not in a position to fulfill the US$14.5 billion
limit set out in the revised draft modalities because of its latest
To cover up this ugly reality, the US disingenuously brought forward
one obstacle after another to ensure that there was no post-Bali work
program, according to several developing country trade envoys.
Instead of naming and shaming the country that is responsible for
wreaking havoc in the DDA negotiations, the DG went along, merely
acquiescing to the demands made by that country for a small package
of deliverables for the Nairobi meeting, the trade envoys said.
At the HoD meeting, the DG referred to the small package involving
LDC issues, outcomes on the export competition pillar in the Doha
agriculture package (while remaining silent on the market access and
domestic support pillars), and a number of provisions to improve transparency
in several issues. The DG also spoke about the need for voluntary
contributions from members in the domestic support pillar.
The DG's remarks were echoed by the US which called for a package
of outcomes involving LDC issues, export competition in the Doha agriculture
package, and transparency provisions.
The US also spoke about its ‘non-paper' (see SUNS #8095 dated 18 September
2015 for details on the non-paper) on domestic support, arguing that
the underlying rationale is that all members must voluntarily contribute
to reduce their domestic farm subsidies.
The European Union made an ambivalent statement to the effect that
it is ready to work for a package of issues, while acknowledging that
all unresolved issues in the DDA must be addressed in a comprehensive
Japan said there is no appetite for the Doha negotiations after the
Nairobi meeting. [The Doha negotiations were launched in 2001 by the
EU and the US, with support from Japan.]
Switzerland surprised the participants at the HoD meeting on Thursday
with its strident criticism of the small package involving the issues
in the farm export competition pillar, particularly the elimination
of export subsidies. Switzerland said it will not accept deliverables
only in the export competition pillar without respecting the "parallelism"
with other areas as laid out in the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.
The Swiss statement came as a rude shock at the meeting, as it brought
to the fore specific concerns over the small package by individual
countries, according to a developing country trade envoy.
In sharp opposition to the DG's and the US interventions, the coordinators
of various groups such as the G-33, the African Group, the LDC group,
the ACP group, as well as trade envoys of China, India, Brazil, Argentina,
Venezuela, Cuba, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Uganda among others issued
strong statements denouncing the efforts to construct a small package
on a pick-and-choose basis.
Indonesia, on behalf of the G-33 group, said "we do not have
clarity yet on what concrete and meaningful DDA deliverables would
be doable and acceptable to all of us."
"The Group is of the view that any ideas on the deliverables
for MC10 must pass the test of faithfulness to the development dimension
of Doha, especially for developing members and LDCs," Indonesia
"For the G-33 and as enshrined under the Hong Kong Declaration,"
said Indonesia, "meaningful Special Products and accessible and
effective Special Safeguard Mechanism are critical development deliverables
for developing country members, SVEs, and LDCs."
Indonesia also drove home the message that "members must continue
following up the Bali mandate to find a permanent solution for public
The African Group issued the strongest statement yet that it will
not accept a set of ideas on the pretext of a small package, ideas
that are inconsistent with the development dimension of the Doha negotiations.
Rwanda said the developing and poorest countries were promised that
they would be integrated into global trade through the DDA but now
all efforts are directed at taking the life out of the negotiations.
Uganda said the poorest countries will not allow a situation of status
quo or perish at this juncture, demanding credible and comprehensive
outcomes based on the Doha agenda.
China said it would neither accept voluntary contributions, nor a
small package without laying out the roadmap for concluding the Doha
India denounced "a call by some members, who want to maintain
the ‘status quo' at any cost, for taking a final view one way or another
on the DDA."
Without naming the countries, India said some members who were ready
to live with a "re-calibrated outcome, now seem to be in a position
to contribute nothing to an outcome, as envisaged in the DDA and ministerial
"It seems to us, that the attempt therefore is to selectively
pick out the elements on which they have some comfort and package
them for an outcome at MC-10," India maintained, expressing concern
over the latest narrative of these countries "to set terms for
a post-Nairobi negotiations in the WTO."
According to India, "a selective package plus a post-Nairobi
agenda which would ironically cover the core issues of the DDA seems
to be emerging among such members."
India demanded "a comprehensive and balanced outcome in all the
three core negotiating areas viz, Agriculture, NAMA, Services as well
as internally on all three pillars of Agriculture, even if a downward
re-calibration of ambition is a necessary condition for fulfilling
the development mandate of this Round."
Even if a "comprehensive" outcome at Nairobi is not possible
due to paucity of time, India said it will reject calls to "declare
that the DDA is concluded in the extreme-dead." (At the meeting
of seven major industrialized and developing countries, held at the
Australian mission earlier this week, the US had described the Doha
negotiations "is like a ‘patient' which is dead but needs a doctor
to certify the death.")
Multilateral negotiations such as those envisaged under are DDA are
an on-going process since they are aimed at deep-seated reforms to
correct inequities, India maintained.
New Delhi said it will test new ideas or proposals presented by some
members whether they are "equitable and do not impose unreasonable
expectations on or specifically target a handful of members."
India called for urgent discussion on a proposal made by G90 members
for "strengthening the Special and Differential provisions in
the current GATT and WTO rules."
Brazil spoke about negotiating as well as political deficit to address
the outstanding issues in the DDA. Brazil said it would press for
progress vis-a-vis the status quo on all three pillars of agriculture,
particularly domestic support.
In crux, the HoD meeting is a writing on the wall about the growing
anger and frustration of developing and poorest countries who feel
increasingly that they are being misled and denied "developmental"
outcomes as set out in the DDA, several envoys concluded. +