Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar16/13)
28 March 2016
Third World Network
US alone, against Doha mandated multilateral solution to 'Rules
Published in SUNS #8208 dated 24 March 2016
Geneva, 23 Mar (D. Ravi Kanth) - An overwhelming majority of members,
particularly developing countries, on Tuesday (22 March) called for
a multilateral solution to the "rules" issues under the
existing Doha mandate of the Negotiating Group on Rules at the World
Trade Organization (WTO), several rules negotiators told the SUNS.
The United States, however, issued a diametrically opposite message
that the rules negotiations must not be resumed unless the chair,
Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, is sure that there is a clear
signal for the way forward after his consultations with members, negotiators
At a meeting of the Doha Negotiating Group on Rules (NGR), the differences
between China, India, South Africa along with other developing countries
on the one side, and the US on the other, on how to address the outstanding
issues of the existing rules mandate came into the open.
The chair Ambassador Wayne McCook presented a factual report of the
positions held by members at the Nairobi ministerial three months
"This is a transparency meeting to hear members' views on the
way forward," he told the SUNS. Ambassador McCook said he is
ready to hold consultations with members on their respective priorities
to advance the work on all issues in the rules dossier.
The "friends of the fish" group - New Zealand, Mexico, Peru,
Haiti, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay
and Pakistan among others - made an aggressive pitch for commencing
work on fisheries subsidies without further delay.
The fish group wants a clear outcome by 2017 when trade ministers
congregate for the eleventh ministerial meeting.
At Nairobi, the "friends of the fish" made a sustained effort
and issued a statement for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries
subsidies that contribute to overfishing.
The US, a strong ally of the "friends of the fish" group,
stressed for a credible and ambitious outcome with new approaches.
China, India, and South Africa along with other developing countries
called for pursuing the unfinished rules negotiations in all pillars
based on the special and differential treatment architecture as enshrined
in the Doha work program.
China touched on the important issues of anti-dumping such as due
restraint and investigations among others to highlight the importance
of tackling both anti-dumping and horizontal subsidies without delay.
India called for pursuing all pillars in the rules negotiations for
arriving at a balanced outcome.
Many other countries also called for continuing work in the negotiating
group, as a multilateral solution to improvements in anti-dumping,
horizontal subsidies, fisheries subsidies, and transparency-related
provisions in the regional trade agreements can be achieved only in
the Doha negotiating group on rules.
Brazil issued an ambiguous message that it is open to process and
timing, implying that it would go with the chair's decision based
on his consultations.
Japan, the coordinator for the "friends of anti-dumping",
called for resuming work on all outstanding issues of anti-dumping.
The European Union maintained that all issues pertaining to subsidies
in agriculture, industrial, and fisheries subsidies can only be tackled
in the Negotiating Group on Rules.
In sharp contrast, the US adopted a unilateral position as to what
needs to be done and what needs to be avoided at the NGR, said a participant
familiar with the meeting.
To start with, the US issued sermons to members on what happened at
the Nairobi meeting when members adopted differing perspectives.
It argued that members must avoid the impulse to begin the negotiations
given the divergent views as expressed in the Nairobi Ministerial
The US said while the Nairobi meeting and the ministerial declaration
would give unease to some members, it also provided a "historic"
opportunity by setting the ground for "new approaches" for
addressing the remaining issues, according to a South American participant.
Intensifying the war-like campaign for "new approaches"
in different negotiating areas of the unfinished Doha work program,
a move pointedly aimed at terminating the special and differential
treatment for China, India, Brazil, and South Africa among others,
the US said that members cannot afford to adopt the stale and failed
After stating the demand for "new approaches" during the
discussions on the unfinished issues of agriculture and services of
the Doha work program, the US brought the issue frontally at the Doha
rules negotiating body.
At the meeting, the US said "new approaches," which is a
euphemism for graduation of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa
among others for availing S&DT, are central for pursuing work
on subsidies, including fisheries subsidies, according to negotiators
present at the meeting.
A US official said this is the first time that members have not reaffirmed
the "Doha mandates" in the last 14 years, according to negotiators
present at the meeting.
The US official went on to quote paragraph 30 of the Nairobi Ministerial
declaration which states: "We recognize that many Members reaffirm
the Doha Development Agenda, and the Declarations and Decisions adopted
at Doha and at the Ministerial Conferences held since then, and reaffirm
their full commitment to conclude the DDA on that basis. Other Members
do not reaffirm the Doha mandates, as they believe new approaches
are necessary to achieve meaningful outcomes in multilateral negotiations.
Members have different views on how to address the negotiations. We
acknowledge the strong legal structure of this Organization."
Washington maintained that new approaches as stated in the paragraph
offers immense and historic opportunity for members to move away from
the stale debate in which the rules negotiations are enmeshed all
these years, a developing country negotiator told the SUNS.
As regards anti-dumping, which includes the elimination of the much-condemned
zeroing methodology that is at the heart of the US' anti-dumping measures,
the US struck a familiar posture like on trade-distorting domestic
support in agriculture.
The US said improvements in anti-dumping provisions must not be addressed
by the NGR. Instead, the anti- dumping issues should be left to the
working group on anti-dumping of the WTO's regular committee on anti-
dumping, according to negotiators present at the meeting.
Like in agriculture, when the US blocked the 2008 revised draft modalities,
the US also gets the distinction for blocking substantial work on
improving anti-dumping provisions time and time again in the Doha
rules negotiations, according to past and present negotiators of the
rules negotiating body.
[The US in effect wants to dump negotiations on anti-dumping from
the Doha mandated negotiations, and for it to be tackled in the regular
committee on anti-dumping where the issue could be bottled up by the
US, while it gets its way on accords in Doha mandated talks only on
issues of interest to it, and hit major developing countries like
Brazil, China, India and South Africa. - SUNS]
While an overwhelming majority of members approved the elimination
of zeroing methodology in the Doha rules negotiations, and the Appellate
Body has repeatedly ruled against the methodology (in disputes involving
the US), the US was the only country which opposed the recommendation
on the zeroing issue.
The US also gets the distinction for losing most of the AD disputes
at the WTO because of the controversial use of zeroing methodology.
Surprisingly, Japan, which is a major ally of the US in the run-up
to the Nairobi ministerial meeting, failed to secure any relief on
anti-dumping issues because of opposition from the US.
Japan, which is the coordinator for the friends of anti-dumping group,
merely swallowed the US' opposition to bring any improvements in anti-dumping
provisions, several rules negotiators maintained.
Even the European Union, which is a strong partner for the US in finalizing
the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration, is unable to address its core
issues in anti-dumping and horizontal subsidies because of the American
opposition, said a subsidies negotiator.
In crux, the rules negotiations are being held hostage to the whims
and fancies of one member, the US, who wants a credible and ambitious
outcome on fisheries subsidies based on new approaches but no progress
in other areas of the rules dossier, according to an Asian negotiator.