Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul17/22)
28 July 2017
Third World Network
South call for credible results, including on PSH & SSM at
Published in SUNS #8511 dated 27 July 2017
Geneva, 26 Jul (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The developing countries, individually
and along with their coalitions on Tuesday called for credible results
based on the Doha work program, including the permanent solution for
public stockholding programs for food security, at the World Trade
Organization's eleventh ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires in December,
trade envoys told SUNS.
The African Group as well as other developing countries, including
India, rejected new issues being brought up on the agenda, maintaining
that there is no mandate for them.
In a face-off with the proponents of the new issues led by the European
Union, the developing countries insisted firmly for advancing outcomes
based on the Doha Development Agenda, trade envoys said.
At the informal Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting, Rwanda,
on behalf of the African Group, emphasized "the importance of
upholding the principles of full participation, inclusiveness, and
transparency in the run up to, as well as during the eleventh Ministerial
Conference in Buenos Aires."
The African Group said it will oppose "any process or green room
meetings both in Geneva and in Buenos Aires that will be exclusively
reserved for certain Members only. We stress that such meetings must
be representative of all WTO groupings."
The group maintained that members cannot decide issues six weeks before
the Buenos Aires meeting.
It reiterated "our special attachment to the strong development
mandate embodied in the Doha Development Agenda and we call on all
Members of the Organization to respect the letter and spirit of Paragraph
31 of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration that said there remains
a strong commitment of all Members to advance negotiations on the
remaining Doha issues".
On issues concerning agriculture, the African Group said that "a
high proportion of the populations in all African countries are crucially
dependent on agriculture for livelihood and daily subsistence."
"Therefore, a correction of the systemic imbalances and asymmetries
in the Agreement on Agriculture, as echoed by all African Ministers
of Trade, remains our main priority in the WTO and it continues to
be our determinant of the level of ambition in the negotiations as
we move towards MC11," it argued.
It questioned the "recent approaches on Overall Trade Distorting
Support (OTDS) based on the percentage of value of production (VOP),"
saying they "cannot achieve the desired objectives but would
rather result in maintaining and even extending current imbalances
in the global rules on trade distorting domestic support."
It supported the joint proposal by China and India "for the elimination
of AMS entitlements and capping product specific support to avoid
production support concentration."
The African Group demanded the resolution of issues such "as
cotton, a Permanent solution on Public Stock-holding for Food Security
Purposes, a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) as well as concerns
raised by Net-Food Importing Developing Countries (NFIDCs)."
On Fisheries Subsidies, the African Group reiterated "our call
for a multilateral outcome with provisions for elimination of subsidies
to IUU fishing activities, as well as disciplines on subsidies that
contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, while taking into account
the need for the development of this sector in many developing countries."
As regards improvements on special and differential treatment, the
African Group regretted that its proposals "were received with
extremely stiff resistance by some delegations."
The African Group said it is guided by its ministers who have said
explicitly that "Special and Differential Treatment MUST be an
integral part of all WTO Agreements and future multilateral outcomes
and be operationally effective, so as to enable developing countries,
in particular LDCs, to effectively address their development needs."
Given the importance of S&D in economic development, we call on
all Members of this Organization to demonstrate the same spirit of
openness that is urged upon us, when they present other issues, which
we do not consider a priority for our economies.
On issues concerning trade in services, the African Group said that
"any outcome on GATS Article VI. 4 disciplines shall not involve
the implementation of new and/or onerous administrative requirements
or requirements that intrude into the domestic policy-making processes".
The African Group emphasized that members must adhere to paragraph
34 of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration that clearly says "while
we concur that officials should prioritize work where results have
not yet been achieved, some wish to identify and discuss other issues
for negotiation; others do not. Any decision to launch negotiations
multilaterally on such issues would need to be agreed by all Members".
On behalf of the G33 group, Indonesia said "a permanent solution
for the PSH and accessible and effective SSM are important tools needed
by the developing members, SVEs and LDCs for sustaining investments
in agriculture for food security, livelihood security and rural development."
"As time is currently very critical, it is important for Members
to demonstrate their constructive engagements and flexibilities,"
The G33 demanded "that Chair and Members must frame our work
after the summer break that would ensure no single technical matter
on SSM and PSH is left unturned and unaddressed before our ministers
gather in Buenos Aires, and that all issues of Members critical to
their decision making should not be left out of the agenda of MC11
so as to ensure success."
India issued the strongest statement yet, saying that "implementation
of the Declarations and Decisions adopted at the Doha and the Ministerial
Conferences held thereafter, is the only way forward to conclude the
"The development dimension is at the core of the DDA and issues
of interest to developing countries and LDCs must be addressed on
priority," India maintained.
India emphasized the importance of ministerial declarations as an
article of faith that must be fulfilled with utmost seriousness, maintaining
that "if members failed to do so, the credibility of the WTO"
will be damaged.
As regards the revised proposals submitted by the G33 on the permanent
solution for public stockholding programs for food security, India
said "with more than eight hundred million hungry and undernourished
people in the world, the problem of ensuring food security remains
an enduring challenge, especially for developing countries."
India reminded the chair that it cannot imagine "a substantive
outcome at the eleventh ministerial conference without a permanent
solution on food security."
It expressed disappointment at the "linkage being drawn between
PSH and the domestic support discussions."
The mandate says clearly that "the two issues have to be kept
on separate tracks."
India said the special safeguard mechanism for developing countries
is essential, suggesting that some countries are maintaining silence.
On domestic support, India spoke about the existing inequities that
allow the industrialized countries to subsidize agriculture including
the possibility of concentrating subsidies on a few products.
China and India want the elimination of aggregate measurement of support
to take forward the Doha Work Program for addressing the historical
India also emphasized the importance of an outcome on cotton while
indicating that it will table a revised proposal on trade facilitation
Commenting on the new issues, India said paragraph 34 of the Nairobi
Ministerial Declaration requires members to pursue issues that have
not been fully addressed in the Doha work program. It opposed the
disciplines on e-commerce.
India called for outcomes on unresolved developmental issues in the
Doha work program.
On behalf of the informal group of developing countries, Dominican
Republic's trade envoy Ambassador Luis Manuel Piantini said "trade
is a tool for development" and members must ensure that "development
remains at the centre of the WTO's work."
He expressed concern at the sharp drop in technical assistance while
underscoring the need for arriving at decisions based on consensus.
China emphasized the importance of eliminating the aggregate measurement
of support as well as enforceable caps on product-specific subsidies.
China said members must respect the red lines some countries have
on e-commerce, according to people present at the meeting.
The United States which did not speak at the informal Trade Negotiations
Committee meeting spoke at the Heads of Delegations meeting.
The US suggested that the eleventh ministerial conference of the World
Trade Organization in Buenos Aires in December must provide a path
for addressing the "systemic" issues as well as the future
of the trade body at the subsequent 12th ministerial conference in
Instead of addressing consequential outcomes at the Buenos Aires meeting,
members must settle for incremental results because of the continued
divergent positions on deliverables that are being targeted for the
eleventh ministerial meeting which will start in less than five months,
the US said at an informal Heads of Delegations meeting, according
to people familiar with the statement.
The US wants systemic issues concerning notifications, compliance
with the rulings, as well as the linkage between trade and development
that became a sine qua non of the Doha trade negotiations, said a
participant, who asked not to be quoted.
During the informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting that lasted
more than six hours, differences over new issues - rules for electronic
commerce, the disciplines for small and medium enterprises, and investment
facilitation among others - came into the open between major industrialized
countries as well as some developing countries on the one side, and
a large majority of developing and poorest countries on the other.
The European Union, Korea, Singapore, and several other countries
called for outcomes on electronic commerce, disciplines for micro,
small, and medium enterprises, and investment facilitation.
In short, the informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting and the
Heads of Delegations meeting brought to the fore the continued differences
among members. But developing countries are joining hands to avert
controversial outcomes at the Buenos Aires meeting. +