Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct15/23)
29 October 2015
Third World Network
ACP tells MC10 to reaffirm Doha mandates, aim to conclude DDA
Published in SUNS #8120 dated 26 October 2015
Geneva, 23 Oct (Kanaga Raja) - Trade Ministers of the African, Caribbean
and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, in a strongly worded Ministerial
Declaration issued in Brussels on the upcoming WTO Nairobi Ministerial
Conference (MC10), have made clear that the Doha Development Round
(DDR) needs to continue and deliver on development mandates, in and
The ACP Ministerial Declaration has called for reaffirmation of all
Ministerial declarations and General Council Decisions relevant to
the Doha mandates, and ensure that post-Nairobi, "all unresolved
issues in the DDA on the development mandate are addressed and yield
specific development milestones to conclude the DDA as soon as possible."
[According to civil society groups at the meeting and the subsequent
press conferences, the ACP Ministerial Declaration in effect rejected
the view of WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, who spoke earlier
and had pushed for a 'mini-package' at Nairobi, and repeatedly said
the "big players" did not want to continue the DDR after
Nairobi - implying that hence there can be no DDR after Nairobi. The
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom (Sweden) had taken a similar
approach in her speech the previous day. Both Azevedo and Malmstrom
had told the Ministers that a "mini-package" on export competition,
LDC package and transparency rules was the best Nairobi outcome. SUNS]
The Declaration was issued by the Trade Ministers of the ACP Group
following a meeting that they held in Brussels from 19 to 21 October
to review the preparations for MC10, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya
from 15-18 December, as well as to provide political guidance for
their Member States.
In their Declaration, the ACP Ministers highlighted several principles
that they said need to be adhered to in the constructive engagement
in pursuit of a meaningful outcome at MC10.
These include: (a) Decisions are taken through a transparent, inclusive,
and consensus-based Member-driven process; (b) Agreement on a development
package taking into account the concerns and interests of all ACP
States; (c) Affirmation of the development objectives of the DDA in
all aspects of negotiating outcomes, including the principle of special
and differential treatment and less than full reciprocity; and (d)
Agreement in Nairobi reaffirming WTO Members' commitment to conclude
the DDA in line with its development mandate.
The ACP Ministers urged Members in Nairobi to deliver on the following
proposals in favour of developing countries and submitted by them:
(i) Ministerial affirmation that, in the course of future negotiations
in agriculture and non-agricultural goods, the flexibilities for LDCs
(Least Developed Countries) and SVEs (Small and Vulnerable Economies)
so far, will be maintained as a starting point and the inclusion of
flexibilities for members of customs unions;
(ii) Affirmation that developing Members with low binding coverage
of non-agricultural goods tariff lines will be exempt from making
tariff reductions consistent with the objectives of Rev. 3 (draft
NAMA modalities text); and countries covered in paragraph 13 of Rev.3;
(iii) Affirmation that the level of ambition for any of the flexibilities
shall be adjusted commensurate with the level of ambition in the negotiations
as a whole;
(iv) Ministerial affirmation of the agreed flexibilities for developing
countries in the services negotiations found in GATS Articles IV and
XIX; the Negotiating Guidelines and Procedures; the Hong Kong Declaration,
including Annex C, including those specifically for LDCs, which do
not contain any concept of reciprocity in the content of offers and
Procedures; and further affirmation that these flexibilities shall
not be undermined by new proposals;
(v) Concrete and binding decisions in the areas put forward by LDCs;
(vi) Binding decisions in accordance with Doha Declaration paragraph
44, on the twenty-five DDA special and differential treatment agreement
specific proposals submitted by the G90;
(vii) A decision on the disciplines on fisheries subsidies that impact
the food security of developing countries and fish resources, as referenced
in JOB/TNC/46, representing a minimum package for development toward
achieving the targets set out in Agenda 2030 SDG 14, while at the
same time ensuring that such disciplines would not consign developing
countries, especially SIDS (Small Island Developing States), which
will need subsidies for their expansion, to only artisanal and small
(viii) Commitment that the application of flexibilities that are not
linked to the tiered formula in agricultural market access to developing
countries shall be maintained;
(ix) Agreement on the extension of the transition period under Article
66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement for LDC Members for certain obligations
with respect to pharmaceutical products which expire in December 2015
and waivers on Articles 70.8 and 70.9 requested by the LDC Group in
(x) A concrete and binding decision on cotton;
(xi) A substantial reduction in trade distorting domestic support,
in particular by developed countries;
(xii) Affirmation that different tariff reduction targets should be
defined for developed countries, developing countries, and SVEs in
accordance with the principles of special differentiated treatment
and less than full reciprocity, and confirming that LDCs shall be
exempt from making tariff reductions;
(xiii) Agreement on the G33 proposal for procedures to operationalize
the Special Safeguard Mechanism that was agreed in the July Framework
(xiv) Agreement on Special Products; and
(xv) Examination of all types of NTBs (non-tariff barriers) in developed
country markets impacting on developing country exports.
The Declaration called upon Members to affirm their commitment to
the DDA and its mandates, in particular on core areas of importance
to developing countries, and emphasised that future negotiations on
agriculture and NAMA tariff cuts must be commensurate with meaningful
cuts in domestic support and that flexibilities shall be accorded
to developing countries, especially LDCs and SVEs.
On agriculture, the ACP Ministers, acknowledging that agriculture
is of critical importance to the economies of the majority of the
ACP Group of States, reaffirmed that special and differential treatment
for developing countries shall be an integral element of the agricultural
negotiations, taking into account the possible negative effects of
non-implementation of commitments by developed countries on ACP States.
"On domestic support, we reiterate the importance we attach to
achieving meaningful cuts in Overall Trade Distorting Support (OTDS),
Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS), and disciplines to prevent
box shifting. The AMS and de minimis flexibilities for developing
countries, in particular LDCs, SVEs, and NFIDCs [net food importing
developing countries] in accordance with Rev. 4 [draft agriculture
modalities text], should be preserved and the integrity of Article
6.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture shall be maintained."
On export competition, as per Rev.4, the Ministers reiterated their
support for the progressive and parallel elimination of all forms
of export subsidies and export measures with equivalent effect, including
in the area of food aid, while taking into account problems faced
by developing countries.
They urged that the flexibilities currently envisaged in existing
texts be maintained including those for LDCs and SVEs.
"On Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes, we call on
Members to work expeditiously towards finding an appropriate permanent
On non-agricultural market access (NAMA), the ACP Declaration reaffirmed
the need to preserve in the NAMA negotiations, at minimum, the core
flexibilities contained in Rev.3 that fully take into account ACP
States' development priorities, and that LDCs shall be exempted from
taking any tariff reductions.
With respect to the current NAMA tariff reduction formula, the Ministers
noted that many WTO Members, including ACP States, have stated that
the Swiss formula is not do-able. They also reiterated the need for
any agreement to include treatment of preference erosion.
In continued negotiations, the Ministers urged that tariff reduction
for those developing Members that are part of a customs union of developing
countries which may include LDCs and SVEs shall be no more than the
average tariff reduction of all the other Members of the customs union
and shall in no case result in final tariffs that are below the Common
"The tariff reduction commitments shall also be moderated to
avoid widening divergences in tariff bindings amongst the Members
of such customs unions."
With respect to non-tariff barriers, the Declaration said that WTO
Members should refrain from imposing measures on trade from ACP States,
that amount to discriminatory or unnecessary barriers to trade.
"Technical assistance should be provided to support developing
country initiatives aimed at ensuring ACP participation in relevant
standard setting processes and to address other non-tariff barriers
On services, the ACP Ministers noted that the Group had identified
non-exhaustive sectors and modes of supply of interest to its Members
They recalled that Members may decide how to proceed on their own
offers taking into account their particular development objectives
and offers from other Members. At the same time, they reiterated key
principles and flexibilities embedded in the General Agreement on
Trade in Services, the Negotiating Guidelines and Procedures, the
Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and its Annex C.
In domestic regulations negotiations, the ACP Declaration recalled
that developing countries have the flexibility in their own discretion
with regard to taking on any new commitments, consistent with their
right to regulate and development policy objectives.
"To further the development component of the DDA, developed Members
should take on commitments in qualification requirements and procedures
to facilitate developing country services market access. We also call
upon Members to reaffirm that LDCs shall not be required to take on
any new commitments."
The Ministers urged Members to take note that LDCs' share in world
merchandise and services trade is miniscule and they suffer staggering
current account deficits.
"Therefore, we emphasise the need for value-added and binding
decisions based on proposals from the LDC Group, to be taken at the
Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi as a matter of
priority toward the real and greater integration of the LDCs into
the multilateral trading system."
On Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), the ACP Declaration reaffirmed
Paragraph 35 of the Doha Declaration and paragraph 41 of the Hong
Kong Ministerial Declaration.
"We urge the WTO Membership to continue to address, in a substantive
and meaningful manner, the particular structural disadvantages and
inherent vulnerabilities of small, vulnerable economies and call for
due regard to be given to the priorities of SVEs in all areas of the
negotiations to ensure their further integration into the multilateral
trading system. We also reiterate that the WTO must deliver flexibilities
for SVEs as part of any development outcome."
The ACP Ministers supported the extension of the decision for MC10
to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on
electronic transmissions, and to continue the electronic commerce
work programme with special attention to the situation in developing
countries, particularly in least-developed country Members and least
"In this regard, we also urge the recognition of the principles
of non-discrimination, predictability, and transparency."
They also called on WTO Members to agree in Nairobi to make permanent
the moratorium on the application of Subparagraphs 1(b) and 1(c) of
Article XXIII of GATT 1994 on non-violation and situation complaints
(NVCs) to the TRIPS Agreement.
The Ministers underlined the importance of MC10 and look forward,
therefore, to effectively and constructively participate in the deliberations
of the conference.
"In addition, we call on all Members to ensure that any proposed
Ministerial declaration for Nairobi is developed in a transparent,
inclusive and consensus based process," they said.