Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar16/14)
28 March 2016
Third World Network
Differing views on way forward on Rules post-Nairobi
Published in SUNS #8208 dated 24 March 2016
Geneva, 23 Mar (Kanaga Raja) - An open-ended meeting of the WTO Negotiating
Group on Rules on Tuesday (22 March) saw a difference of views among
Members on the way forward in the negotiations on rules following
the Nairobi Ministerial Conference (MC10) held last December.
According to trade officials, reporting for the first time since MC10,
the Chair of the Rules Group, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica,
acknowledged the differences on how the post-Nairobi discussions on
rules should proceed.
The Chair said while "it's clear that members remain interested
in finding ways to secure outcomes on rules," some members wanted
to focus on specific areas of interest.
Others emphasised the need for balanced outcomes across all pillars
of the negotiations, he added.
Ambassador McCook further said he would make himself available should
any delegation wish to consult with him on how to move forward.
The Chair recalled that despite intensive efforts headed by the Rules
"facilitator", Jamaican Minister A. J. Nicholson, at the
Nairobi Ministerial Conference, WTO members were unable to reach agreement
on any of the rules issues, which includes anti-dumping, subsidies
and countervailing disciplines, fisheries subsidies, and provisions
on regional trade agreements (RTAs).
According to Ambassador McCook, two draft texts produced by the facilitator
towards the end of the Nairobi meeting on anti-dumping and fisheries
subsidies failed to garner consensus from members.
Apart from the broad commitment to address rules as stated in paragraph
31 of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (NMD), only the issue of
RTAs was the subject of a specific provision in the text.
[Paragraph 31 of the NMD states: "Nevertheless, there remains
a strong commitment of all Members to advance negotiations on the
remaining Doha issues. This includes advancing work in all three pillars
of agriculture, namely domestic support, market access and export
competition, as well as non-agriculture market access, services, development,
TRIPS and rules. Work on all the Ministerial Decisions adopted in
Part II of this Declaration will remain an important element of our
"Nevertheless, as we are all aware, members are committed to
finding ways to advance work on all issues, including rules issues,"
Ambassador McCook said.
However, the Chair said that proponents for outcomes in the rules
negotiations have made it clear that they do not just want to simply
pick up where they left off in Nairobi and do not want any limitations
imposed by the Nairobi draft proposals and processes on the possible
scope and ambition of further work.
VIEWS OF MEMBERS
A number of delegations took the floor to voice their views on the
way forward in the rules negotiations post-Nairobi.
According to trade officials, a number of delegations including New
Zealand, Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific group of WTO members and the
African, Caribbean and Pacific Group), Mexico, Peru, Haiti, Australia,
Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay and Pakistan stressed
the importance of the negotiations on fisheries subsidies.
They voiced disappointment over the continued inability to secure
an agreement, despite what they claimed was broad support for new
disciplines in the sector.
According to trade officials, some said that the mandate for a result
was clearly spelled out in Target 14.6 of the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals, which commits governments, by 2020, to prohibiting
certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity
and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported
and unregulated fishing, and refrain from introducing such new subsidies.
They underlined that it was therefore important that an outcome be
achieved on fisheries subsidies at the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference
(MC11) in 2017.
A number of developing countries in this group of countries pointed
to the second part of Target 14.6, which recognises that appropriate
and effective special and differential treatment for developing and
least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries
According to trade officials, several members, including China, India
and South Africa, underscored that outcomes need to be achieved in
all areas of the rules negotiations and that special and differential
treatment for developing countries remains an integral part of the
India said that the outcome not only needs to be balanced across all
pillars but also reflect the realities of the negotiations in the
overall context of the WTO.
China highlighted the importance of new disciplines on investigations
and due process in anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations.
It said that future work should be based on previous work and outcomes.
According to trade officials, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Japan
and Hong Kong-China expressed support for continued efforts in the
Singapore and Chinese Taipei stressed the importance of new disciplines
The European Union said that the issue of subsidies, whether industrial,
agricultural or in fisheries, could only be effectively addressed
in the WTO.
It expressed regret over the lack of urgency in the rules negotiations
during the run-up to Nairobi, despite a number of re-calibrated proposals
put forward by the proponents.
Those members who indicated a willingness to engage on rules post-Nairobi
must now make good on that promise, the EU said.
According to trade officials, the US said that the lengthy and intense
discussions on rules in the run-up to and at Nairobi were a useful
reminder that the issues were complex and difficult, and that members
held widely divergent views among and across them.
The US maintained that Members must avoid the impulse to just resume
the negotiations, particularly in the same formats that led only to
stalemate rather than progress.
Rules were an example of where new ideas were needed rather than failed
mandates and destructive linkages, the US argued.
The US further said that it did not see how any further active negotiations
in the Negotiating Group on Rules could bridge the deep divisions
in this area.
According to trade officials, Brazil said it was ready to engage further
in the Rules Group and that it was ready to discuss all issues on
their own merits with the possibility of achieving results at MC11.