Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov15/06)
9 November 2015
Third World Network
Azevedo's doomsday scenarios to promote US, EU agendas
Published in SUNS #8127 dated 4 November 2015
Geneva, 3 Nov (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The World Trade Organization's Director-General
Roberto Azevedo painted a doomsday scenario last week that the United
States and the European Union will "disengage" if members
reaffirm continuation of negotiations on all outstanding issues of
the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in the Nairobi ministerial declaration,
several ACP trade envoys told the SUNS.
According to the envoys, at a retreat of the African, Caribbean and
Pacific (ACP) group of countries over the weekend of October 31-November
1 in Lausanne, Azevedo cautioned the participants about the looming
dangers if there is no outcome at the Nairobi ministerial meeting.
He spoke repeatedly about the twin dangers of paralysis at the WTO
and "disengagement" by the industrialized countries if developing
and the least-developed countries demand reaffirming of continuation
of the DDA talks in the post-Nairobi work program, said several trade
envoys from the ACP group.
Azevedo urged the ACP countries to adopt "flexible" and
"pragmatic" positions at the tenth ministerial meeting beginning
on December 15 in Nairobi, and said that otherwise they will suffer
the consequences, according to several envoys who attended the meeting.
If there is no outcome on the so-called small package of deliverables
- elimination of export subsidies, binding commitments in the package
for least-developed countries, and transparency-related improvements
in the anti- dumping provisions - then, there will be no engagement
of trade majors at the WTO, Azevedo maintained.
Negotiations, Azevedo told the ACP meeting, are happening outside
The DG spoke at length about the new rules and standards that are
currently being negotiated in the Trans- Atlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership agreement between the United States and the European Union.
The standards and the non-tariff barriers (NTBs) negotiated by the
US and the EU will be brought back to the WTO if there are no negotiations
at the multilateral trade body because of the continued paralysis,
The DG said the developing countries did not want the Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement at the WTO
but today the same developing countries are comfortable with the TRIPS
agreement for proposing minimum standards.
Therefore, Azevedo argued, members must ensure negotiations at the
WTO rather than allowing them to be decided outside the trade body,
according to the participants.
Azevedo overly praised the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), saying
that it provides enormous benefits to members. The DG emphasized that
the TFA is a "template" for doing things at the WTO. If
you remain flexible and adopt pragmatic positions, then, there is
a chance for multilateral negotiations, Azevedo repeatedly told the
"What's going to happen in Nairobi," according to Azevedo,
will depend on whether members adopt "realistic" positions,
particularly on the post-Nairobi work program.
The DG said that there is nothing for the industrialized countries
in the DDA, arguing that they will simply disengage if "you [ACP
countries]" insist on continuing with the DDA talks.
The DG maintained that some of the proposals tabled by the G-90 countries
for binding improvements in the special and differential treatment
(S&DT) provisions are "very ambitious." He said the
industrialized countries will give a generalized "NO" to
the binding improvements in the S&DT provisions.
On the LDC proposals too, Azevedo said, there will be outcomes without
indicating whether they will be binding results as compared to the
best endeavour outcomes in the ninth ministerial meeting in Bali in
Several ACP countries dismissed Azevedo's statement, saying it was
difficult to know whether he was speaking for the US or for the developing
and poor countries who are seeking "credible and balanced developmental
outcomes in a development round."
"Azevedo's interventions are an extreme form of fear-mongering
as was done before the Bali meeting when he said the WTO will be paralyzed
if there is no agreement on trade facilitation," said a central
African trade envoy.
In sharp contrast to the WTO DG's assessment, the executive director
of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha Gonzalez and the secretary-general
of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Mukhisa Kituyi urged the ACP countries to double their efforts for
securing the developmental outcomes as promised in the DDA at Nairobi
and after Nairobi.
The two chiefs asked the ACP countries to ensure that the Doha negotiations
are continued after Nairobi, otherwise there will be nothing for them
after the tenth ministerial conference.
The DG disagreed with the ITC executive director over her calls for
continuing with the DDA negotiations after the Nairobi meeting, said
another trade envoy.
At the end of the retreat on Sunday, the ACP countries decided to
stick to their ministerial declaration issued in Brussels last month.
They dismissed the overly alarmist calls of some members to pursue
new issues, without delivering on the "developmental" components
of the Doha agenda.
"The ACP countries felt that they cannot abandon the Doha negotiations
without resolving all the fundamental developmental issues in the
DDA and launch negotiations on new issues," an African envoy
told the SUNS.
The ACP countries want an explicit ministerial declaration reaffirming
continuation of negotiations on all outstanding issues of the DDA.
Although they prepared a strong statement to be issued at the heads
of delegations meeting on Tuesday (November 3), it was not issued
at the meeting as no member took the floor, the African envoy told
On post-Nairobi work, the ACP ministers said: "We call upon Members
to reaffirm in Nairobi, the Ministerial declarations and General Council
Decisions relevant to the Doha mandates; and to take concrete steps
to conclude the remaining issues in the DDA, with development as a
"We further call upon Members to 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," the ACP ministers had maintained.
In addition to the scare-mongering tactics, Azevedo is holding Room
W meetings from Thursday without proposals from the proponents of
export competition. Azevedo would use an electronic screen to make
changes in preparing the ministerial declaration in Room W, the African
trade envoy said.
In short, the Director-General is leaving no stone unturned in delivering
the results for the trade majors in utter disregard to the demands
made by developing and poorest countries at the WTO for developmental
outcomes and continuation of the DDA negotiations after the Nairobi
meeting, said an African trade envoy. +