Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct15/20)
27 October 2015
Third World Network
US wants S&D for non-compliance on export competition pillar
Published in SUNS #8118 dated 22 October 2015
Geneva, 21 Oct (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The developed countries led by the
United States have demanded special and differential treatment (S&DT)
for themselves so as to not comply with the commitments in the export
competition pillar based on the Doha agriculture mandates.
They however remain opposed to provide S&DT to the developing
and poorest countries on several other issues of the Doha Round, trade
envoys told the SUNS.
"This is hypocrisy of the worst kind in which the US wants special
and differential treatment for not addressing the disciplines on export
credits, food aid, and state trading enterprises in the Doha agriculture
package but [is] not prepared to extend the same treatment for the
developing and poorest countries on the core issues," said a
trade envoy from a developing country.
"The US has steadfastly opposed the permanent solution for public
stockholding programs for food security, special safeguard mechanism,
and a waiver from commitments for patent protection for pharmaceutical
products for the poorest countries," the envoy said.
At a meeting of select trade envoys from over 30 countries last Friday
(October 16), the chair for Doha agriculture negotiations Ambassador
Vangelis Vitalis posed three questions. They include (i) where is
the problem in the Rev .4 (revised draft modalities of December 2008),
(ii) what are the specific concerns of the members, and (iii) how
do they propose to address them.
Many members, particularly developing countries, welcomed the chair's
three questions and said categorically that they are ready to work
on the basis of the 2008 revised draft modalities or Rev. 4, according
to the participants present at the meeting.
Also, trade envoys welcomed the elimination of export subsidies. However,
Switzerland pressed for a longer period for phasing out its export
But the US trade envoy Ambassador Michael Punke raised a flag on several
issues in the export competition pillar based on the 2005 Hong Kong
Ministerial Declaration and the 2008 revised draft modalities. He
stated unambiguously that Washington will not be in a position to
accept several major disciplines for export credits, food aid, and
state trading enterprises of the Doha agriculture export competition
pillar, according to trade envoys present at the meeting.
The US demanded "safe harbour" protection on its export
credits from the disciplines of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
(SCM) Agreement while complying with the WTO's current Agreement on
Agriculture (AoA) for export credits.
The US also dismissed binding commitments for food aid while raising
concerns even in the area of state trading enterprises.
The US said categorically that export credit guarantees with repayment
period of 180 days and below as mandated in the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial
Declaration and the Rev. 4 are not acceptable to it since the US'
law allows repayment period for two years.
The US also made it clear that the disciplines on food aid in Rev.
4 are not acceptable to Washington. The US said it could agree only
with best practices for food aid. The US said that it would have a
problem even in the disciplines on the state trading enterprises on
the issue of government funding provision, according to a South American
Although the European Union said it is ready to work on the basis
of Rev. 4, it also signalled its willingness to settle for any outcomes
based on the consensus among members. Effectively, the EU indicated
that it can turn a blind eye in case the disciplines for export credits,
food aid, and state trading enterprises are sufficiently weakened,
said a developing country envoy from a South American country.
While the US adopted a unilateral position on the export credits,
food aid, and state trading enterprises, the other developed countries,
particularly Australia and the EU, targeted the developing countries
by calling for the elimination of special and differential treatment
for developing countries under Article 9.4 of the Agreement on Agriculture
(AoA), according to participants present at the meeting.
The US, however, maintained that it is not against S&DT flexibilities
for developing countries, emphasizing that Washington can agree to
a longer phase-out period for developing countries but the end point
has to be the same for all members.
The strongest attack on the double-standards and sheer hypocrisy of
the positions adopted by the developed countries came from India.
The Indian envoy Ambassador Mrs. Anjali Prasad dismissed the Australian
demand on the ground that the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of
2005 has clearly stipulated that "developing country Members
will continue to benefit from the provisions of Article 9.4 of the
Agreement on Agriculture for five years after the end date for the
elimination of all forms of export subsidies."
Furthermore, the Rev. 4 has stated that developing countries can "continue
to benefit from the provisions of Article 9.4 of the Agreement on
Agriculture until the end of 2021, i. e. five years after the end-date
for elimination of all forms of export subsidies [2013 for industrialized
countries and 2016 for developing countries]," India argued.
Several developing countries supported India by saying that they will
adhere to the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and the Rev. 4 to
eliminate export subsidies five years after the industrialized countries
do away with their subsidies, said a participant familiar with the
In sharp contrast to its demand for "safe harbour" treatment
for export credits from the disciplines of the Subsidies and Countervailing
Measures (SCM) Agreement, the US vehemently opposed India's demand
for insulating the public stockholding programs for food security
from the SCM disciplines.
The US' demands in export competition pillar and its refusal to address
disciplines in the domestic support pillar are tantamount to ensuring
that the inequities in the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) based
on the Uruguay Round continue in perpetuity, said an African trade
As the US mounts unprecedented pressure on members for securing substantial
flexibilities in finalizing the disciplines on export credits, food
aid, and state trading enterprises, it is ready to pound the developing
countries by vehemently opposing the permanent solution for public
stockholding programs for food security and special safeguard mechanism.
The US is also forcing the poorest countries to run in circles over
their demand for extending the waiver on TRIPS commitments until they
graduate to the developing country status, the envoy added.
In short, the coming weeks will indicate whether the US can manage
to secure the best concessions and treatment while a large majority
of countries are not only denied the much-promised "development"
dividends of the Doha Round but are asked to bury the 14-year-old
At the same time, the US continues "cherry-picking" which
of the Marrakesh Treaty commitments and mandates for further work
it will pursue and which it will ignore - the latest example being
its unwillingness to continue negotiations on harmonizing Rules of
Origin, mandated to be taken up and completed by 2008-end, or continue
with the process of agriculture reform to eliminate all agricultural