TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May 07/10)
29 May 2007
is a narrowing of differences between the
Lamy was speaking at a media briefing on 9 May following a meeting of the WTO General Council.
Below is a report of the Lamy briefing and the Council meeting.
It was published in SUNS on 10 May.
"EU, US differences narrowing, but not fast enough", warns Lamy
Kanaga Raja (SUNS),
there is a narrowing of differences between the
This view was expressed by Lamy in response to a question at a media briefing on 9 May following the conclusion of a meeting of the WTO General Council.
as to whether the
is not only about farm subsidies but also about market access and tariffs,
Lamy said, adding that the reason why the
as to where he sees this convergence between the
The one-day General Council meeting took up some regular agenda items including Lamy's report as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee, reports by the chairs on the work programme on small and vulnerable economies and on special and differential treatment.
At the media briefing, Lamy responded to another question by saying that he did not intend to put forward a paper (presumably his own), except in an extreme situation.
He did not elaborate what the extreme situation would likely be. He said the respective Chairs would be submitting documents and as long as the process moves forward, there is no need "to take another option that would be risky."
Asked whether a Mini-Ministerial would be convened in June or July, Lamy said the real question is whether ministers would be needed to clinch the modalities on agriculture and NAMA and deal with other issues. Whether ministers would be needed (to clinch the modalities) is unclear at this stage.
about the prospects of getting a deal given the
said that TPA is undoubtedly needed to conclude the Doha Round. He was
also of the view that TPA renewal would be helpful, because this would
be a sign of engagement on the part of the
With respect to the Doha Round, Lamy said that there is a commitment to re-balance previous rules of the multilateral trading system in favour of developing countries, since the rules are imbalanced in favour of developed countries. This Round will have to result in a re-balancing, and developing countries are adamant that this should happen.
Asked about the NAMA negotiations, Lamy said that the currency that is used in the WTO negotiations is 'bound rates', and there is a parallel with subsidies (agricultural) ceilings, as well as with services where negotiations are done with respect to bound commitments.
There is however an economic reality which is real or applied rates, said Lamy. Inevitably, these two cannot be totally separated, as the difference between bound and applied rates is extremely different between country-to-country and sector-to-sector.
The question whether developing countries with a 'lot of water' (difference between bound and applied rates) should have some of the reductions bite into applied rates and what would be the influence of the flexibilities that they have, remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, in his report to the General Council, Lamy referred to the last informal meeting of the TNC on 20 April where the commitment made by the major players to a successful outcome of the negotiations by the end of this year was welcomed.
said Lamy, there are no illusions about the challenges that it represents.
''All of us here in
According to Lamy, the first step in that sequence is to establish modalities in agriculture and NAMA, which will then be reflected in the schedules that participants will elaborate in the next step. ''It will also be necessary to bring the work in the other areas of negotiation to a commensurate level of maturity if we are to have the whole package agreed by the end of this year.''
be able to meet this challenge, said Lamy, ''we urgently need serious
substantive engagement by all partners in the multilateral process here
multilateral negotiations can no longer be made to wait for contributions
from other processes in or outside
Lamy said the engagement at Monday's meeting to discuss the "Challenge paper" of the Chair of the agriculture negotiations was encouraging.
also reported on preparations for three regional Aid-for-Trade reviews
- the first to take place in Lima on 5-7 September for the Latin America/Caribbean
region; the second in Manila on 19-20 September for the Asian region;
and the third in Tanzania on 27-28 September for the Africa region.
All these would lead to the monitoring and evaluation event that will
take place in
Lamy underlined his belief that a successful outcome to the Round is possible, even in the small amount of time remaining until the end of this year. He had warned governments that if they do not compromise soon, they will be forced to confront the unpleasant reality of failure.
According to trade officials, most of the delegations that spoke at the Council meeting requested that the statements they made at the informal TNC meeting on 20 April to be put on the record.
It said that the principle role of the Doha Development Agenda is to give developing countries the tools to make trade a driving force in their development. Transparency and inclusiveness are very important principles with respect to this.
The LDCs should be included in any discussion on tariff-reduction formulae pertaining to cuts in industrial product imports because their interests need to be taken into account as well.
services, the LDCs have not been able to benefit from autonomous commitments
largely due to capacity constraints, said