Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov15/08)
11 November 2015
Third World Network
Binding outcomes unlikely for LDCs in Nairobi package
Published in SUNS #8129 dated 6 November 2015
Geneva, 5 Nov (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The package of ‘deliverables' at
the forthcoming Nairobi WTO Ministerial will be unlikely to have any
binding outcomes and the concessions for the Least Developed Countries
(LDCs) will remain a promise of "best endeavour efforts",
according to several trade envoys.
The much-touted package of concessions for the LDCs to be agreed at
the Nairobi ministerial meeting next month is unlikely to contain
any binding outcomes after the major developed countries on Wednesday
(November 4) made it clear that they will not be in a position to
provide binding deliverables for duty-free and quota-free market access,
simplification of preferential rules of origin, services waiver, and
on the vital issues of the cotton dossier, several trade envoys told
At a green room meeting specifically convened on the LDC package on
Wednesday, the WTO's director-general Roberto Azevedo asked the developed
countries to indicate what they are going to do on the four issues
- duty- free and quota-free market access, simplification of preferential
rules of origin, services waiver including enhanced market access
for LDC services providers, and cotton.
At the meeting, the chairs for the different negotiating bodies overseeing
the LDC issues gave their respective assessments on where the issues
stood in regard to the four LDC concerns.
The chair for Doha agriculture negotiations Ambassador Vangelis Vitalis
of New Zealand maintained while there are some positive indications
in market access for cotton, the prospects in the domestic support
pillar seemed less encouraging.
Even in the export competition pillar, the LDC cotton producers might
only get results on the elimination of export subsidies but not in
export credits, according to LDC participants familiar with the meeting.
But the European Union, the United States, Japan, and other major
developed countries said they will strive hard to provide improvements
in the four areas - duty-free and quota-free market access, simplification
of preferential rules of origin, services waiver and cotton - for
the LDCs but not on a binding basis, said a LDC trade envoy who asked
not to be quoted.
The developed countries maintained that they are not required to provide
binding outcomes under the Bali ministerial declaration, the trade
The Bali ministerial declaration which was agreed at the WTO's ninth
ministerial meeting in December 2013, according to the developed countries,
merely suggested that "issues in the Bali Package where legally
binding outcomes could not be achieved will be prioritized."
That did not imply that binding outcomes will be delivered at the
tenth ministerial conference, the developed countries argued, according
to the LDC envoy.
The major developed countries merely suggested that they are still
working hard on finding some solutions to the LDC issues but not on
a binding basis.
The EU said that it is looking to what extent it can provide binding
outcomes but suggested several internal difficulties, according to
a LDC envoy.
The EU, for example, will provide duty-free and quota-free market
access subject to political and labour safeguards.
The EU said it is one of the main members that can address the preferential
rules of origin but it is still examining the issues.
On cotton, the EU said, Brussels is ready to provide a commitment
to eliminate export subsidies. But, on domestic support for cotton,
the EU ruled out any outcome because it provides blue box support
for cotton producers in two member-countries, said another LDC envoy.
At the green room meeting, the US issued a one-line statement saying
the issues are difficult in the LDC package and that they face domestic
The US said that on one issue - the LDC waiver for exempting the poorest
countries from implementing the commitments in the Trade-Related Aspects
of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for pharmaceutical
products - they have already agreed, according to the LDC envoy.
The developed countries said they are ready to address some issues
in the 25 special and differential treatment proposals but did not
suggest whether they would be on a binding basis, according to the
LDC trade envoy.
A day before the green room meeting, the LDCs circulated a comprehensive
proposal listing all their priorities for which they sought binding
outcomes at the Nairobi meeting.
The LDCs' priorities include:
(i) Binding improvements in 25 special and differential treatment
provisions along with the G-90 countries;
(ii) Simplification and streamlining of the preferential rules of
origin to eliminate barriers to LDC exports;
(iii) The LDC modalities for special treatment to their services providers,
including the operationalization of the Services waiver for preferential
(iv) Binding duty-free and quota-free market access for LDC exports
in industrialized countries and in developing countries in a position
to do so;
(v) Substantial outcomes in the three pillars - market access, domestic
support and export competition - of agriculture, including the exemption
of market price support schemes for public stockholding programs for
food security, de minimis calculation and special safeguard mechanism;
(vi) On Cotton, provision of duty-free and quota-free market access
in the United States and other industrialized countries for the LDC
cotton products from 2016 in different stages, reduction of domestic
support by 50% from next year, and elimination of export subsidies
coupled with new disciplines for export credits and state-trading
(vii) Changes in the tariff reduction obligations for industrial products
for LDCs who are currently participating in the customs union and
disciplines to address erosion of preferential tariffs of industrial
products and commitments to refrain from non-tariff barriers;
(viii) Exemption of LDCs from implementing the transparency provisions
across the rules negotiation pillars of anti-dumping, countervailing
duties, regional trade agreements and fishery subsidies;
(ix) Continuation of fishery subsidies by the LDCs without contributing
to overfishing or the depletion of fish stocks; and
(x) Full operationalization of the 2002 and the 2012 General Council
decisions for enabling LDCs to accede to the WTO expeditiously.
For all practical purposes, the LDCs will now have to live with the
best endeavour outcomes instead of the much- promised binding outcomes
at the Nairobi ministerial meeting, trade envoys told the SUNS. +