Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov15/11)
16 November 2015
Third World Network
South strikes body blow to US-EU plan to wind-up DDA
Published in SUNS #8132 dated 11 November 2015
Geneva, 10 Nov (D. Ravi Kanth) -- China, India, South Africa, Indonesia,
Ecuador, Venezuela and the coordinators of the various developing
country coalitions have struck a body blow to a handful of developed
countries led by the United States and the European Union and have
demanded that the post-Nairobi work program must explicitly reaffirm
continuation of the Doha negotiations on all outstanding issues of
the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), several trade envoys told the SUNS.
China, in a stinging attack, exposed the diabolical attempts of the
major industrialized countries to pocket the Trade Facilitation Agreement
and run away from the Doha talks without addressing the other central
issues of the DDA. The charge forced the US to say that it was not
cherry-picking issues but was guided by "national interests".
At a heads of delegations meeting on Friday (November 6), the handful
of countries - the US, the EU, and Japan - who are opposing the continuation
of the Doha negotiations after the Nairobi meeting, faced a major
setback when an overwhelming majority of developing countries demanded
unambiguously the continuation of the negotiations in all outstanding
areas of the Doha Development Agenda.
India, on behalf of China, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Ecuador,
and Venezuela, issued a powerful joint statement on the post-Nairobi
work program at the meeting. The four-point statement said "we
take note of the progress that has been made towards carrying out
the Doha Work programme, including the decisions we have taken during
this Ministerial Conference."
"These decisions," the statement emphasized, "are important
stepping stones towards the completion of the Doha Round. We reaffirm
the Declarations and Decisions we adopted at Doha, and all subsequent
Declarations and Decisions notably the Decision adopted by the General
Council on 1 August 2004; the Hong Kong Declaration of 2005 and the
Bali Ministerial Declaration of 2013."
The six developing countries noted that while progress is made, "more
work needs to be done to enable us to proceed towards the full, successful
and multilateral conclusion of the negotiations pursuant to paragraphs
45, 47 and 48 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration in fulfilment of
the commitments we took at Doha. In those areas where we have reached
a high level of convergence on texts, we undertake to maintain this
convergence as the basis of further negotiations towards the conclusion."
"Taking note of the progress made so far," the signatories
emphasized, the ministers shall direct their officials "to continue
working towards the expeditious conclusion of the Doha Development
Agenda with a renewed sense of urgency. Further, we ask the Chairman
of the General Council to convene a special meeting of the General
Council no later than 31st March 2016 and every three months thereafter
to review the progress of work done towards this successful conclusion
in a time-bound manner."
The statement by the six countries was followed by detailed statements
by the coordinators of the 79-member African/Caribbean/Pacific (ACP)
Group, the African Group, the Arab Group, the Small and Vulnerable
Economies (SVEs), and the Recently Acceded Members (RAMs) - and several
other developing countries, who pressed for a strong post-Nairobi
In opposition to over 110 developing and least-developed countries,
the US said the repeated failures in 2008 and 2011 coupled with lack
of progress on the DDA issues over the last two years should remind
members about the need to terminate the Round. Members should be free
to bring any issue of their interest without reference to framework
and also pursue issues in agriculture and other areas by jettisoning
the existing Doha architecture, according to people familiar with
The EU issued almost an identical statement, saying that there is
no progress in the Doha negotiations over the last 15 years. The EU
said members can continue with issues such as agriculture, industrial
goods, and rules but with a new framework of flexibilities based on
"differentiation," said a trade envoy who was present at
Korea, Chile, and Colombia among others underscored the need for adopting
a middle path involving the continuation of negotiations for completing
the unfinished business in the DDA while pursuing new issues in the
post-Nairobi ministerial declaration.
Canada called for taking up new issues such as competition, environment,
global value chains, and electronic commerce in the post-Nairobi work
Australia supported Egypt for a "collective vision" to decide
the way forward after the Nairobi meeting. Brazil did not mention
the DDA but called for reform of agriculture in the post-Nairobi work
The discussion which was based on the report submitted by the three
facilitators - Amb. Gabriel Duque from Colombia, Amb. Stephen Karau
of Kenya, and Amb. Herald Neple of Norway - brought into the open
the differences between a handful of developed countries led by the
US and the EU, and a large majority of developing countries led by
China, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
The coordinators of several developing country coalitions such as
Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Arab Group, Barbados for the ACP Group,
Lesotho for the African Group, and Guatemala for the SVEs, said the
post-Nairobi work program must explicitly call for the continuation
of the DDA negotiations in all unfinished areas.
South Africa said the interventions by an overwhelming majority of
countries demonstrate "wide and strong support for continuation
of the DDA in its current architecture," while acknowledging
that "a few important members oppose continuation of the current
DDA architecture," according to a South American trade envoy.
South Africa suggested that the next step in the process will be to
consider textual proposals by members.
WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said there is a "duality
and dualism" between two views. Members want the WTO to deliver
but the question is how do you resolve these two diametrically opposite
positions, Azevedo asked, according to participants at the meeting.
The DG didn't mention that only a handful of countries are calling
for the termination of the Doha negotiations while an overwhelming
majority of countries demanded that the Doha negotiations must be
continued to address the remaining issues after the Nairobi meeting.
During the meeting, China, for the first time, levelled a major charge
against the developed countries for having pocketed the Trade Facilitation
Agreement (TFA) without addressing other issues in the DDA.
The Chinese envoy Ambassador Yu Jianhua said he thought initially
that all DDA issues will be resolved after clinching the TFA despite
doubts expressed by several countries. He said he was "naive"
to have thought on those lines. Events over the past two years have
clearly showed that the developed countries are not prepared to address
the DDA issues, after grabbing the TFA, a participant present at the
meeting told the SUNS.
Several countries shared China's assessment and said that there was
a concerted effort of cherry-picking in which key members concluded
the TFA while denying the outcomes on other issues.
Cuba said if the Doha architecture helped the members in concluding
the TFA, why is it that the same members argue that it cannot deliver
results in agriculture and other areas of the DDA.
In quick response, the US envoy Ambassador Michael Punke suggested
that there was no attempt at cherry- picking issues like the TFA.
In trade negotiations, said Ambassador Punke, members are driven by
"national interests," according to a participant who was
present at the meeting.
China also severely criticized the EU and other industrialized countries
for proposing new issues without completing the Doha negotiations.
China said it is a thick red line when members suggest jettisoning
the DDA work to pursue new issues.
South Africa also dismissed suggestions by Canada and other members
for bringing new issues such as global value chains and competition
policy on the agenda. Canada, however, maintained that it would press
ahead with new issues after the Nairobi meeting.
India, China, and South Africa dismissed the need for new guiding
principles for future negotiations as suggested by "one delegation"
in the report issued by the facilitators.
The US, according to several participants, had suggested that special
and differential treatment and less-than-full reciprocity will only
apply to least-developed countries and small and vulnerable economies
but not to all developing countries.
India said the GATT 1994 and the Marrakesh agreement have clearly
stipulated the guiding principles which underpin all negotiations
at the WTO.
Nevertheless, the industrialized countries led by the EU demanded
"graduation" for future negotiations in the post-Nairobi
In short, the tug of war between the handful of developed countries
on one side, and an overwhelming majority of developing countries
will now surface at the actual drafting of the post-Nairobi work program
during the next few days. The developing countries must remain united
to call the bluff of the trans-Atlantic trade giants, said an African
trade envoy. +