TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (De15/14)
17 December 2015
Third World Network

Developing nations reiterate continuing Doha for redressing inequities
Published in SUNS #8158 dated 17 December 2015

Nairobi, 16 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - Several developing countries on Wednesday reiterated their stand for continuing the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations to address the longstanding inequities in the global trading system, particularly in the most heavily trade-distorted agriculture trade dominated by the subsidizing countries.

Ministers of these nations stated this position at the plenary meeting of the World Trade Organization's tenth ministerial conference here in Nairobi on Wednesday (16 December).

Trade ministers of India, China, South Africa, Uganda, Lesotho, Rwanda, and Venezuela among others delivered a strong message against attempts to hijack the DDA negotiations, without resolving the core issues of the Doha mandate, and commence work on new issues.

The Ministers also called for an inclusive process to finalize outcomes at the Nairobi meeting instead of pursuing confessional meetings to decide the deliverables.

India' trade minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman said "the DDA may have run into obstacles but it is in our collective interest to continue work in all pillars, keeping its development dimension intact."

"We are of the firm view that this Ministerial must clearly re-affirm the Doha Development Agenda and all Ministerial Declarations and Decisions taken since 2001 when we launched the Doha Round," said Sitharaman.

"These are all important - let us not waste time negotiating which of these we should reaffirm and welcome," she emphasized.

The Indian minister said the tenth ministerial meeting in Nairobi must safeguard the legitimate interests of poor farmers and the food security of hundreds of millions in developing countries. "We cannot continue with the rhetoric of a development agenda without even a reasonable attempt to address issues which are of primary concern to developing countries," she said.

The Indian minister argued that "for decades, a handful of farm lobbies of some countries have shaped the discourse and determined the destiny of millions of subsistence farmers of the developing countries."

Sitharaman expressed sharp concern that "the reduction in the massive subsidization of the farm sector in developed countries which was the clear cut mandate of the DDA is now not even a subject matter of discussion today, leave aside serious negotiations."

"It is regrettable that longstanding issues of interest to a large number of developing countries are being put aside for the future and new issues of recent vintage are being taken up with unusual enthusiasm," she said.

She pointed to the remarks of the Kenyan President that at a time when the meeting is being held in Africa, "Africa's farmers simply cannot compete against heavily subsidized farmers in developed countries."

The Indian minister said the situation is the same in all developing countries. India, she said, would "resist the temptation of overloading the WTO agenda at this stage with 'new issues', when we are still grappling with the completion of work in the DDA."

Many developing countries who spoke at the plenary also came out strongly in support of continuing the DDA negotiations until they accomplish the mandated goals of the DDA.