Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May16/07)
10 May 2016
Third World Network
US and friends line up against development goals in Doha services
Published in SUNS #8236 dated 9 May 2016
Geneva, 4 May (D. Ravi Kanth) - Several developing and least-developed
countries on Tuesday (May 3) pressed for adhering to the "developmental"
goals in restarting the unfinished Doha services negotiations at the
World Trade Organization (WTO).
However, the United States struck a discordant note, and insisted
on members adopting "new approaches" because of what it
claimed was the "historic turning point" at the WTO's tenth
ministerial conference in Nairobi, Kenya, over four months ago, negotiators
told the SUNS.
The Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (NMD), according to the US, acknowledged
the fundamental differences among members over the Doha Development
Further, the NMD offered a "historic opportunity to reinvigorate
the WTO's negotiating function". Services, according to the US,
is one area where "new approaches" are needed, negotiators
told the SUNS.
At an informal open-ended meeting of the Doha services negotiating
committee convened by the chair Ambassador Gabriel Duque of Colombia,
the developing and the least-developed countries (LDCs) put forth
their priorities that starkly differed from the objectives spelt out
by the US, Australia, the European Union, Canada, Norway, and other
major developed countries, negotiators said.
Although it is the first informal meeting of the Doha services special
session and members remained upbeat on kick-starting the unfinished
services negotiations, the differences over the immediate priorities
among the developed countries on the one side, and the developing
and the LDCs on the other, suggested that the way forward is going
to be difficult, said a South American negotiator.
Many countries - Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia, Korea, Singapore, Switzerland,
Uruguay, Chinese Taipei, Norway, Egypt, China, the EU, Australia,
Chile, Ecuador, Uganda, Turkey, the US, and South Africa among others
- made "positive" statements about the importance of the
Australia said the services negotiations must remove the deep water
between bound and applied commitments in services, a position that
would require the developing countries to bind their current applied
Australia, which is a major spokesperson for the developed countries
in the services negotiations and also a convener of the closed-door
negotiations of the trade in services agreement (TISA) among 23 countries
outside the WTO, called for a "sectoral approach" in the
WTO services negotiations. Australia also touched on transparency
in domestic regulation.
Australia, the European Union, and Canada spoke about the importance
of e-commerce in services negotiations.
The EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has already stated that
"digital trade", which involves both goods and services,
is a major priority area.
"The whole sector [digital trade] barely existed when the Doha
Round was launched... And the Doha work program on e-commerce has
moved far more slowly than the incredible changes we have seen to
the online world in the last fifteen years," she told participants
at a meeting at Geneva's Graduate Institute.
The EU also is a strong demandeur of doing away with the special and
differential treatment architecture. "If 164 countries are prepared
to open their markets on same terms [without S&DT] that's good
for everyone," she maintained at the Graduate Institute.
Therefore, the EU and the US are on the same page of starting with
new approaches, said an African negotiator.
Although other developed countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand,
Switzerland, and Japan - do not openly acknowledge their support for
"new approaches", they are also silent supporters for removing
the S&DT architecture once and for all, the negotiator said.
The EU's trade commissioner has also called for "filling in the
gaps on domestic regulation of services, which would also do something
generally for a sector that's only going to become more important
in international trade over time."
But the EU's position on domestic regulation doesn't seek to do away
with the complex domestic regulation barriers, particularly the economic
needs tests and other technical standards, according to an Asian services
Mexico, which is a major participant in the TISA negotiations, called
for pursuing the WTO negotiations in all sectors and modes of supply
China said it is willing to consider any ideas and proposals that
would accelerate the services negotiations on a strong footing.
India said it had tabled a proposal on Mode 4 concerning the movement
of short-term services providers. India said its interests in services
are well known and that services, particularly market access and domestic
regulation, are very important.
India called for ensuring that the interests of the least-developed
countries take precedence over all other priorities.
India said the integration of developing and least-developed countries
in the global trading system in services is important.
The 2004 July framework agreement emphasized that "members shall
aim to achieve progressively higher levels of liberalization with
no a priori exclusion of any service sector or mode of supply and
shall give special attention to sectors and modes of supply of export
interest to developing countries. Members note the interest of developing
countries, as well as other Members, in Mode 4."
The 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration called for "the negotiations
on trade in services shall proceed to their conclusion with a view
to promoting the economic growth of all trading partners and the development
of developing and least-developed countries, and with due respect
for the right of Members to regulate."
The Annex C of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration had stated: "Members
shall aim to achieve progressively higher levels of liberalization
with no a priori exclusion of any service sector or mode of supply
and shall give special attention to sectors and modes of supply of
export interest to developing countries. Members note the interest
of developing countries, as well as other Members, in Mode 4."
South Africa, Ecuador, and India called for achieving the "developmental"
goals as agreed in the Doha services negotiations. The G-90 countries
and the African Group spoke about the centrality of the developmental
dimension in the services negotiations.
South Africa, Ecuador, and India spoke about the flexibilities accorded
to developing countries. The three countries called for preserving
the developmental priorities as well as special and differential flexibilities.
In short, if the first informal open-ended meeting of the Doha services
negotiating body after the Nairobi Ministerial is any indication then
it is clear that the US and its developed country allies will ensure
that the developmental priorities of the developing and poorest countries
based on the previous Doha mandates are put to bed once and for all,