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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov15/15)
23 November 2015
Third World Network


Large majority of developing nations insist on continuing with DDA
Published in SUNS #8138 dated 19 November 2015


Geneva, 18 Nov (D. Ravi Kanth) -- A large majority of developing and least-developed countries on Tuesday (November 17) rallied around India, China, and South Africa to drive home a strong message that the developed countries cannot run away after pocketing the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and refuse to address the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) after the Nairobi Ministerial Conference, trade envoys told the SUNS.

At a meeting of the drafting committee, India, China, South Africa, Jamaica, Lesotho on behalf of the African Group, and several other developing countries ridiculed and dismissed the argument advanced by developed countries that the DDA negotiations are unable to make progress despite full engagement and intensive efforts.

Japan's trade envoy Ambassador Yoichi Otabe argued that people in Japan will laugh at the proposal circulated by China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Venezuela which calls for completing the Doha Development Agenda negotiations based on the "advances" made during the last 14 years.

The joint proposal tabled by China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Venezuela on November 6 says: "We particularly welcome the advances made in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), as represented by the Decisions and Declarations we have adopted at our present session. These Decisions and Declarations signify that we have taken yet another step forward in the negotiations and attest to our strong resolve to complete the DDA as has been reaffirmed by our Leaders in the Sustainable Development Goal 17.10.

"The DDA is a significant multilateral attempt to respond to trade and development interests of developing Members and redress the development deficit in the rules resulting from the previous rounds of multilateral trade negotiations. A comprehensive conclusion of the DDA with meaningful and balanced outcomes will provide impetus to global trade liberalization and facilitation, correct the development deficit in the rules resulting from the previous rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, improve the trading prospects of developing Members, and enhance the primary role of the WTO in global trade governance."

In sharp response, India's trade envoy Ambassador Anjali Prasad asked whether people in Japan laughed when the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was concluded two years ago.

She said when the TFA was concluded, everybody pronounced that the DDA can deliver and the WTO can function for the multilateral good.

But now, the same countries are painting a "negative" picture, India said. There is a concerted attempt to paint a doomsday scenario if members continued with the remaining issues in the DDA negotiations, India argued.

The European Union vehemently maintained that they don't want the continuation of the DDA negotiations notwithstanding an overwhelming support for the joint proposal by China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Venezuela.

The EU's trade envoy Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen said they don't want any further continuation of the DDA negotiations as demanded by the group of developing countries.

China dismissed the EU's argument, suggesting that issues such as public stockholding programs for food security and the special safeguard mechanism are vital to the livelihood concerns of the developing countries.

India said there is an attempt to deliver outcomes in agriculture based on market access but not on the livelihood concerns of farmers in India and other developing countries.

Ambassador Prasad challenged the material basis for a proposal tabled by the so-called Friends of the System (FoS) that members have been unable to make progress despite full engagement.

The joint proposal tabled by Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland, who are all members of the FoS, says, "we regret that despite full engagement and intensive efforts, Members have been unable to progress the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) further and that, most recently, Members could not agree on a Post-Bali Work Programme on the remaining DDA issues as directed by Ministers at MC9."

India dismissed the proposal by the FoS on the ground that it is a disingenuous account of the Doha negotiations.

For 12 years, there was full engagement on all issues, particularly the TFA. After the TFA was concluded, the developed countries turned their backs and did not engage at all during the last two years. Therefore, it is wrong to argue that there was "full engagement and intensive efforts" over the last two years, India said.

India said "members have been unable to progress the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) further and that, most recently, Members could not agree on a Post-Bali Work Programme on the remaining DDA issues as directed by Ministers at MC9" because there was no genuine and sincere effort to engage in issues such as public stockholding programs and food security.

Once the TFA is pocketed, said India and several other countries, the narrative has been changed by the developed countries, according to the participants present at the meeting.

South Africa said the process adopted by the facilitators is unclear as there are too many overlapping proposals, while some major proponents such as the US and the EU did not even table any proposal.

South Africa suggested that there should be a discussion among the proponents of their proposals instead of subjecting the entire membership to a marathon exercise, according to the participants present at the meeting.

Jamaica asked how members can disregard all the existing mandates and decisions agreed over the last 14 years and start negotiations all over again without reference to those decisions.

Lesotho, on behalf of the African Group, reiterated that there must be an explicit decision at the Nairobi meeting to continue the Doha trade negotiations.

The African Group said:

(i) We further welcome the advances made in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), as represented by the Decisions and Declarations we have adopted at our present session. These Decisions and Declarations signify that we have taken yet another step forward in the negotiations and attest to our strong resolve to complete the DDA as has been reaffirmed by our Leaders in the Sustainable Development Goal 17.10.

(ii) We reiterate the need for the WTO to remain the premier negotiating forum to improve multilateral trade rules and respond to the dire need for this institution to deliver on substantive market access for trade and competitiveness of our weaker and vulnerable Members, in particular LDCs. However, it is imperative that the achievements we have made over time on inclusive, Member-driven, consensus-based, and transparent conduct of negotiations should be maintained.

(iii) We recognise that the DDA is a significant multilateral attempt to respond to trade and development interests of developing Members and redress the imbalances codified in the rules resulting from the previous rounds of multilateral trade negotiations. Further, we recognize that a comprehensive conclusion of the DDA with economically meaningful and balanced outcomes will provide impetus to global trade liberalization and facilitation, and improve the trading prospects of developing Members, and enhance the primary role of the WTO in global trade governance.

Clearly, the drafting exercise has exposed the stratagem of the developed countries and their intentions to do nothing in the DDA after pocketing the TFA, said a developing country trade envoy.

In short, the developing countries and the LDCs can ensure that the DDA negotiations are continued without interruption if they stand united now during the drafting exercise as well as at the Nairobi meeting when it starts on December 15, trade envoys told the SUNS. +

 


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