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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Aug16/05)
4 August 2016
Third World Network
 

South for development outcomes at MC11, Doha issues a priority
Published in SUNS #8292 dated 28 July 2016
 
Geneva, 27 Jul (Kanaga Raja) -- A number of developing countries have made clear that development outcomes are crucial at MC11 (to be held in 2017) and that priority must be given to the Doha issues.
 
They also stressed that accords on issues of public stockholding for food security purposes and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) must be delivered at MC11.
 
The positions of the developing countries came at an informal Heads of Delegation (HOD) meeting on Monday (25 July) at the WTO, where Director-General Roberto Azevedo and the Chairs of the various Doha Work Programme negotiating bodies reported on their recent consultations on key issues.
 
The Chairs reported that positions remain basically unchanged from before or since MC10 on public stockholding for food security purposes, the SSM and Special and Differential Treatment (SDT), key issues of crucial importance to developing countries. (See SUNS #8291 dated 27 July 2016.)
 
According to trade officials, Rwanda, on behalf of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, underlined that for the group, development outcomes at MC11 are crucial.
 
We need to live up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and there is need to begin serious work immediately after the summer break if outcomes are expected by MC11, it said.
 
Rwanda stressed that paragraph 31 of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (NMD) gives priority to the Doha issues and these should be addressed as a priority.
 
The ACP group would like to see an outcome on domestic support at MC11 as well as a permanent solution for public stockholding for food security purposes.
 
The temporary solution on public stockholding must be made into a permanent solution.
 
It would also like to see the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) made operational, and an agreement reached on fisheries subsidies. There must be special and differential treatment with respect to fisheries subsidies.
 
On services, the ACP Group said that the development dimension must be taken up.
 
On the new issues, the ACP Group said it is following the discussions closely on electronic commerce. While the new issues can be discussed, progress in these areas should be linked to progress on the Doha issues, it stressed.
 
Peru highlighted fisheries subsidies and the contribution that the WTO can make to the SDGs. It wants to see a transparent and inclusive process moving forward.
 
Argentina said there has been a good outcome at Nairobi especially on export competition. All those countries that have export subsidies need to eliminate them.
 
Agriculture is a clear priority for the majority of members and it would like to see an agreement on fisheries subsidies as part of the WTO's contribution to the SDGs.
 
It would also like to see an outcome on services by MC11, both in services market access and in domestic regulation. It would like to see discussions enhanced with deliverables in e-commerce by MC11.
 
Benin, on behalf of the LDCs, said that it is impressed by the movement to action from reflection. It is very keen to see this continue.
 
The Russian Federation said that it is encouraged by the movement to greater action.
 
The European Union said that there is need to identify where deliverables can be achieved by MC11. There is need for clear submissions. While there have been some submissions, more are needed.
 
The EU welcomed proposals on domestic support in agriculture. It said efforts on this need to be redoubled.
 
There is also need to increase the discussions on e-commerce and digital trade.
 
On fisheries subsidies, the EU said that it is ready to engage on this and to look for multilateral disciplines on fisheries subsidies.
 
On services, the EU said that there is an urgent need to advance on domestic regulation with text-based proposals.
 
South Africa said that all the reports of the Chairs indicate that - in one way or another - much more needs to be done to close the gaps between Members.
 
In South Africa's view, until there is some shared understanding on how we intend to address the remaining Doha issues, deemed "the priority" at MC10, it will be difficult to get "buy in" from all Members to even discuss non-DDA issues, lest we create a new "imbalance" in the negotiating process. (See SUNS #8291 dated 27 July 2016.)
 
Singapore said that the multilateral trading system is essential and needs to be preserved. We must not fall into ideological debates and push action that should take place in the WTO out of the organisation.
 
Costa Rica said that domestic support is crucial and it welcomed the discussion on e-commerce. The lack of progress in the WTO must be reversed as it is very bad for developing countries.
 
Japan noted that on domestic support there have been many proposals put forward. On services, there have been fruitful discussions on domestic regulation. It is prepared to be flexible and constructive in its approach.
 
Pakistan said that two successful ministerial meetings have put the WTO back on track. A step by step approach is needed.
 
E-commerce is also key to development, and development must be central to the discussions here. MC11 can be an opportunity to make progress and achieve an outcome on e-commerce.
 
Agriculture is a core issue and we need to look at all three pillars. It is open to discuss SSM and public stockholding, and is ready to work on finding an outcome on fisheries subsides that is within the mandate of the SDGs.
 
Indonesia said that paragraph 31 of the NMD says that the Doha issues should have priority. The conversation should be guided by development considerations. On agriculture, the priority is public stockholding and SSM.
 
Paraguay said it is open to discussions on a range of issues. Agriculture continues to be of crucial importance. Agriculture trade is still imbalanced and there is need for more to be done.
 
Bangladesh said that the WTO must keep delivering. There were two issues in Nairobi that were important - agriculture and SDT.
 
It got what it wanted on agriculture but not on SDT. There is need to restart the discussions on SDT.
 
The US said that it shares the view that it is important to implement the NMD. There is need to avoid drifting back to the pre-Nairobi negotiating dynamic.
 
It feels as though things have been fairly favourable so far in the discussions. There is a new spirit of openness in the WTO and this is encouraging.
 
The US is ready to engage in many different formats provided that there are new approaches that are being taken up.
 
Most of the members seem prepared to engage on issues that are maybe important to the future relevance of the WTO. The G20 has given impetus to discussions on trade and investment which has been interesting.
 
According to the US, there is some indication that some are still clinging to an old mandate even though there was a lack of consensus on the old mandates in Nairobi.
 
New beginnings can only be achieved if we are prepared to move away from the past and approaches that did not work.
 
For the US, the WTO and the multilateral trading system are the bedrock. The multilateral framework is embedded in every bilateral and regional trade agreement that it has negotiated.
 
Colombia said that an incremental approach should be taken. Areas for short-term agreement should be identified but also plot a longer term course.
 
It wants to see progress in all three pillars of agriculture. Progress in needed on domestic support, fisheries subsidies and services.
 
China said that it is committed to giving priority to all DDA issues. It noted that there are new proposals put on the table but there are no signs of consensus on these new proposals and the prospect for gaining consensus on these new proposals at this point seems unfavourable.
 
The Doha framework and mandates seem the best bet for delivery of the issues by MC11, said China.
 
On agriculture, it sees that many members want agreement on domestic support. The success of MC10 was about leveling the playing field with respect to export competition and MC11 can go further by eliminating AMS, especially as used by developed countries.
 
Only 32 members use the Amber Box and it will be impossible to reach consensus if we leave the AMS and focus on de minimis, particularly the de minimis programmes used by developing countries, let alone de minimis programmes used by Article XII countries, it said.
 
There is need to focus as well on agriculture market access particularly tariff peaks and tariff escalation. These issues are candidates for deliverables by MC11.
 
The SSM and public stockholding are stand-alone issues where solutions must be delivered at MC11, it said. It also stressed on the development dimension.
 
It is favourably inclined on the new issues and would like to see a development-friendly outcome at MC11 on e-commerce.
 
Bolivia said that the NMD gives priority to the Doha issues, particularly SDT. There is need to level the playing field and for more fair and balanced rules.
 
There is need to eliminate domestic support in agriculture as well as the Green Box. There is also need for an SSM for the developing countries.
 
India said that we are in an interesting phase of technical consultations right now which have enabled members to better understand each others' positions. Only through a member-driven transparent and inclusive process can progress be made.
 
The public stockholding and SSM provisions are crucial outcomes for India. On services trade, advancing the DDA should be the priority. The development dimension should be central.
 
We should not be looking at anything which would erode the development dimension through any part of these discussions and this would not be acceptable to India, it said.
 
Ecuador stressed the importance of the DDA issues in particular SDT. It also wants to use the Rev. 4 text (draft agriculture modalities of 2008) as the basis for discussion on agriculture. It would like an agreement on market access in agriculture by MC11 as well as SSM and public stockholding.
 
Cuba said that the need for the Doha Round was as potent as ever because there is need to address the imbalances from the Uruguay Round.
 
New issues which could impinge on sovereign rights must not be taken up before the DDA issues are concluded. It also favoured the use of Rev. 4 text and supported the G33 proposals on SSM and public stockholding.
 
Brazil said that it is pleased to see engagement at a faster pace. We appear to be moving in the right direction. Agriculture is central.
 
It noted that a great majority of members have identified trade-distorting domestic support as a central issue for progress.
 
DG AZEVEDO INDICATES RUN FOR SECOND TERM
 
Meanwhile, at a media briefing on Wednesday (27 July), during the General Council meeting, DG Azevedo said that two bids have been received to host MC11, one from Argentina and the other from Uruguay.
 
The DG also said that he has indicated to members that even though the formal process has not started yet - it will start at the next General Council meeting in October when the Chair launches the process - that he "will make himself available if members feel that this is helpful, I will be there to go for a second term at that point in time."
 
He said that he will still follow the process. When the GC Chair launches the process "then I will formalize this decision but it was just an indication to avoid the rumours and avoid speculation and uncertainty," he said.
 
The DG was asked about the fact that in the past three years of his term there has been a hollowing out of the legislative and adjudicative process. For example, the reappointment of AB member Seung Wha Chang being blocked by one member, one member after Nairobi has been insisting on new approaches in the negotiations, and with many developing countries feeling that the DG who was brought in by the developing countries largely, is working for one or two major members.
 
On the AB, Azevedo said that there is a process being conducted by the Chair of the DSB, and that is his job. "I am not going to be interfering with his work."
 
He said that in the last DSB meeting there was a breakthrough and his understanding is that the chair found a way forward with members and they are already proceeding along that basis.
 
On the negotiating procedures, he said: "You are perfectly entitled to have your view of who I represent. As far as I am concerned, I represent all WTO members and members are entitled to have their own opinion. So, I am there. If members feel that I am helpful, they will take me on board for a second term. If they don't, then they don't. It's as simple as that."
 
It is the members that are going to drive the process in terms of substance of the negotiations. In the negotiating groups, they are the ones that make the proposals, they are the ones who drive the process.
 
"To the extent that I can be there to facilitate, I will be there to facilitate," he said. +

 


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