TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (April07/06)
22 April 2007
meeting of G4 and G6 Trade Ministers in
The G4 exclusive process seems to be reaching deadlock at this stage. Below is a report on the situation.
mood at WTO as G4 process seems to reach dead-end
mood of despondency is increasing among WTO members as the possibility
meeting of G6 Trade Ministers in
could only have been portrayed as some kind of success because the media
covering it in
those who have been involved in or closely following the recent negotiations
new emerged at
Perhaps the only new element was the announcement by Japan and Australia (the two countries that are not part of the G4 but which were invited to be part of the G4 meeting) that they had offered to organize another Ministerial meeting of the G6, and that this would be held in either Tokyo or Canberra in the second half of May.
It was not even confirmed by the others whether the offer had been taken up. Earlier, it had been expected that the G4 or G6 would meet again at the end of April, in an intense effort to make more progress. But this end-of-April meeting seems to have been abandoned.
decision by WTO Members in February to resume the
this objective has been reaffirmed no later than 2 days ago by G4 ministers
warned of the dangers of failure. But it was kind of a deja vu, as he
had delivered the same message at the annual IMF/World Bank meeting
October 2005, the
One would have expected that in their secret talks, the G4 or G6 would be intensely negotiating scenarios of hypothetical offers - if the US could reduce its allowed TDS to $17 billion or $15 billion or $12 billion, whether the others could provide various alternative numbers (hypothetical, of course) for tariff reductions in agriculture, estimates for sensitive and special products in agriculture, and NAMA coefficients.
this is not happening," said a trade diplomat of one of the countries
the same time, the
This, said the diplomat, is "absolutely crazy." His impression is that the US is not serious about making proper offers, because of domestic political considerations, and the problem of 'selling' it to US farm lobbies, to enable the administration to get fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (or even a limited one) which ends on 30 June, but to take advantage of which, the administration would have had to notify before 1 April a detailed draft agreement it intends to sign.
a new or extended TPA has been complicated by the Democratic majority
in both Houses of Congress - and the major conflicts and confrontations
between the Democratic Congress and the White House over a range of
assessment is in line with the thinking of several trade and political
the developing countries are not in the mood to make significant concessions,
especially since the
Without fast-track authority, the US has much less chance to convince others that it will be able to make a deal; in such a scenario, the developing countries ask why they should make concessions that can be "pocketed" by others, without a deal being concluded. When negotiations resume, the concessions already made may be "locked in", without any benefits in exchange.
on his part made the point that the developed countries like the
after the G6 Ministerial, Nath went to
The two Ministers issued a joint statement on Monday stressing that the "development dimension is at the heart of the Doha Round". They also agreed that the major issue impeding the progress of the Doha Round was "the lack of movement by developed countries in terms of early removal of distortions, caused by huge subsidies and significant market access barriers in developed countries".
They thus "urged the developed member countries, to realise that they bear a special and specific responsibility for the outcome of the Doha Round" by showing a readiness to implement measures that would remove trade distortions and significantly open up their markets.
The joint statement concluded that the current positions of the developed countries did not provide an adequate basis for successful negotiations on agriculture and called for an "improvement" of these positions, in particular, what it called "the two crucial areas of domestic support and agricultural market access".
two Asian giants thus appear to be moving closer together in cooperating
at the WTO. The Ministers' message was clear: if the
Now that there is little movement in the G4 or G6 process of recent months, there is talk that the "multilateral process" of the WTO membership will be boosted instead.
"The G4 will always have a legitimacy problem as they represent only so few members and cannot speak for the rest," said a diplomat. "The only legitimacy they could have is if they make progress, and then bring that to the other members to consider."
action can thus be expected at the WTO in