Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov15/03)
6 November 2015
Third World Network
Vast WTO majority for continuing Doha negotiations after Nairobi
Published in SUNS #8125 dated 2 November 2015
Geneva, 30 Oct (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The United States and some other
powerful WTO members appear isolated in their attempts to end the
Doha Round after Nairobi, while a large majority of the membership
have demanded an explicit commitment in the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration
to continue negotiations on all outstanding issues of the Doha Development
This has become clear from a report issued by the panel of three facilitators,
named by the WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, to help advance
work on the preparation of a Ministerial Declaration for the tenth
WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi beginning on December
The three facilitators are: Ambassador Gabriel Duque of Colombia,
Ambassador Stephen Karau of Kenya, and Ambassador Herald Neple of
According to the report issued on Thursday (29 October) by the three
facilitators after a round of "confessional" meetings with
members, a large majority of the members have demanded an explicit
commitment to continue negotiations on all outstanding issues of the
Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration.
Out of around 57 countries that expressed their views to the panel
in confessional meetings, some 37 developing and least-developed countries
(LDCs), including the coordinators for major coalitions such as the
ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) Group, the African Group, the
LDC Group, the G-33 group, the SVEs (small and vulnerable economies),
the Arab Group, the RAMs (recently acceded members), and the C-4 (Cotton-four
countries), told the panel that the Nairobi ministerial meeting of
the World Trade Organization cannot put an end to the DDA negotiations.
The developing countries and the LDCs called for "preserving
the legal architecture" as established in the 2001 Doha Ministerial
Declaration, the 2004 July Framework Agreement, the 2005 Hong Kong
Ministerial Declaration, the Bali Ministerial Declaration, and "past
work such as the Rev. 3 and Rev. 4 draft modalities in NAMA and Agriculture,"
the facilitators noted in their report.
Ahead of their confessional meetings with members, the facilitators
had raised three questions: i) what should be the "structure"
of the Ministerial Declaration, ii) what "elements" should
the Declaration contain, and iii) what "process" should
be followed to arrive at a consensual Declaration.
Despite being couched in constructive ambiguities, the eight-page
report clearly revealed that only a handful of countries led by the
United States, the European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada, and a
few other developing countries like Mexico, Chile, and Costa Rica
want the Doha Round to be terminated at the Nairobi ministerial.
"Such an outcome of denying oxygen to DDA negotiations is not
acceptable to a large majority of developing and the poorest countries
who are demanding the continuation of the Doha Round at any cost after
the Nairobi meeting."
On Thursday, the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, told leaders
of the African countries during the third Indo-Africa Forum Summit
in New Delhi that "when we meet at Nairobi Ministerial of the
WTO in December, we must ensure that the Doha Development Agenda of
2001 is not closed without achieving these fundamental objectives."
"We should also achieve a permanent solution on public stockholding
for food security and special safeguard mechanism in agriculture for
the developing countries," Mr. Modi said.
However, by using terms like "many delegations," "a
number of delegations," and "some delegations," the
three facilitators gave a mixed picture, said a trade envoy.
"But in reality, a large majority of countries spoke their mind
unambiguously that a handful of countries cannot stop the Doha negotiations,"
said an African trade envoy.
The facilitators, for example, said "a number of delegations"
[the United States, the European Union, Australia, Japan, and Canada
among others] said "while they could agree to continue the negotiations
on the remaining DDA issues, they could not accept any statement to
the effect that the Doha Round would continue, or any reference to
previous mandates or progress made," the three facilitators said
in their report.
"One delegation [the United States] said that it would prefer
an explicit statement declaring the end of the [Doha] Round,"
the panel noted in its report, according to a developing country trade
However, "it [the US] could agree to a Ministerial Declaration
that was silent on the fate of the DDA," the facilitators said,
according to the envoy.
In sharp disagreement, other members said the NMD [Nairobi Ministerial
Declaration] cannot remain silent on the future of the Doha Round.
Some countries also called for continuation of negotiations, without
mentioning a specific framework.
On DDA Deliverables for Nairobi, there were differing views as to
how they need to be incorporated in the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration
Many members, for example, said the DDA deliverables for Nairobi would
depend on the progress made in the negotiating groups.
But some members "made it clear that there was a link between
what they could agree to on the Nairobi DDA package and what could
be agreed on DDA post-Nairobi," the facilitators maintained.
More importantly, many members stressed "that they would not
agree to any DDA Nairobi package in the absence of an explicit guarantee
that pending issues in the DDA would continue to be negotiated after
Significantly, many members pressed for outcomes identified in agriculture,
albeit with different nuances. But some members underscored the need
for outcomes in all areas of export competition.
"A few of these delegations stressed that without an outcome
in export competition [Argentina and Brazil], they would not be in
a position to support any outcome for Nairobi," the facilitators
Members also emphasized that "the focus could not only be on
export competition, without assurances about what would happen in
the other two pillars [domestic support and market access] in agriculture."
They said ministers needed to provide clear direction that negotiations
would continue on the domestic support and market access pillars.
More importantly, "a number of delegations stressed that the
special safeguard mechanism (SSM), special products and public stockholding
for food security [the G-33 coalition of countries led by Indonesia,
the African Group, and many members of the Africa, Caribbean, and
Pacific (ACP) group] were critical elements for them."
But some members like the US, Australia, Paraguay have all along maintained
that there was not enough time to deal with the SSM, special products,
and public stockholding programs for Nairobi.
These countries are also known to have "expressed strong objection
to an SSM as a deliverable for Nairobi, given the absence of results
in market access."
On cotton, according to the facilitators, some members demanded that
the issue had to be included in the Declaration "in an explicit
and concrete manner" with a "binding outcome" based
on their proposal.
The Cotton-four countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali - demanded
a comprehensive outcome in market access, domestic support, and export
competition, including a down payment of 50% cut in the first year
The facilitators maintained that "a large number of delegations"
called for a "credible development" component in the Nairobi
outcomes, including widespread support for an LDC package comprising
duty-free and quota-free market access, preferential rules of origin,
services waiver and cotton.
"A group of delegations [the LDCs, and the C-4 countries],"
according to the three facilitators, demanded "stand- alone,
binding and commercially meaningful decisions on these issues making
reference to paragraph 1.11 of the Bali Ministerial Declaration."
That declaration called for binding outcomes on the LDC issues.
The delay in concluding the Doha Round of negotiations meant a failure
to "readdress the imbalances in the multilateral trading system,
both in terms of levelling the playing field between developed and
developing countries and in narrowing the gap in commitments between
recently acceded Members (RAMs) and original WTO members," said
some members, according to the facilitators.
Many members, according to the facilitators, demanded that the issues
under the DDA which would not be part of the deliverables at MC10
should form part of the post-Nairobi work, especially the core issues
of Agriculture, NAMA and Services. Some members also included rules
along with these core issues.
On the process between now and the Nairobi ministerial meeting and
at the Nairobi meeting, "one delegation [India] said that no
draft prepared by any source could form the basis for the drafting
processes," according to the facilitators.
"A number of delegations stressed that any drafting process should
take place under the authority and oversight of all Members and that
any alteration to any draft should reflect consensus and divergences
should also be clearly articulated," the three facilitators maintained.
Further, a large number of countries, according to the facilitators,
insisted on "reaffirming the principles of special and differential
treatment and less than full reciprocity" as guiding principles
for both DDA and future negotiations.
But "one delegation [the United States] said this could only
be acceptable, if it was made clear that these principles applied
exclusively to LDCs and vulnerable economies," the panel said
in their report.
Further, "one delegation mentioned that commitments should be
undertaken in line with Members' prosperity and weight in international
trade, and the length of time since their access," the panel
The US also said that it will not agree to S&DT status for China
and India during several closed-door meetings.
The report suggested that members expressed "different and often
divergent views on whether non-DDA issues should be included in any
Some members said "no new issues should be introduced before
the conclusion of the DDA and stressed that even then, they could
only be considered on an exploratory basis and for some by explicit
consensus," according to the facilitators.
However, "one delegation stressed that it could not support the
introduction of any new issues other than those already listed in
the Doha Declaration and that those issues could only be considered
on an exploratory basis," the facilitators noted.
Nevertheless, some members said "the inclusion of new issues
in the future work of the organization would maintain its relevance
as a forum for negotiations and for addressing the realities impacting
But "one delegation [the European Union] said that it could only
accept language on the remaining DDA issues, if there was language
on new methods or ways to tackle them, as well as language on new
issues. In its view, the Ministerial Declaration should recognise
the right of Members to bring issues of interest to the WTO in order
to start exploring them with a view to possible negotiations."
Many members said e-commerce is an area where more work could be pursued
after Nairobi. Other new issues mentioned by members to the facilitators
include "investment, including investment incentives and subsidies;
competition; SMEs [small and medium enterprises]; RTAs [regional trade
agreements]; global value chains; food security in the context of
a broader agriculture discussion; government procurement; consideration
of Mode 4 in services; environmental harmful subsidies; tropical products;
traditional knowledge in intellectual property; and unilateral measures."
In short, the facilitators' report seemed to put a gloss on the isolation
of some powerful members who want to put the Doha Round to bed despite
an overwhelming majority of countries wanting to continue the Doha
negotiations to bring about credible outcomes for leveling the playing
field in the multilateral trading system. +