TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June 07/08)
15 June 2007
Below is an article dated 7 June on the situation at the WTO.
The latest figure floating for US trade-distorting support is $11 billion for 2006. That puts a new colour to the negotiations.
There are rumours of some "progress" in the G4 talks, but no confirmation.
Indications too have emrged of "lowering of ambitions" in the G4.
The NAMA meeting on 6 June focused on the tariff reduction formula. It was quite an explosive meeting.
This article was published in SUNS on 8 June.
Pace of WTO talks increases, and rumours of progress in G4
By Martin Khor (TWN), 7 June 2007
Meetings in different formats are now taking place simultaneously at the WTO as negotiations intensify ahead of new draft modalities for agriculture and non agricultural market access (NAMA) which are expected to be issued in the next fortnight.
A growing sense of urgency is also gripping diplomats in Geneva as some key political events take place and loom ahead -- the G8 Summit in Germany today, the meeting of Brazilian Minister Celso Amorim and EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in Geneva this Saturday (9 June), the meetings of the G20 Ministers and the NAMA 11 Ministers on Monday (11 June), and the G4 Ministers meeting on 19-22 June (probably in Potsdam, Germany).
News is floating around in some diplomatic circles that talks among the G4 (bilaterally among some of the Ministers, and together at senior-official level) are moving ahead.
corridor talk is that the
compares with the $23 billion that the
recent days, it has been reported that some delegations during the small-group
agriculture negotiations had stated that the actual OTDS of the
This gives a different view of figures like $15 billion or $17 billion, which are lower than $19.7 billion but decidedly higher than $11 billion. An offer to set the bound OTDS level in the "mid-teens" is not impressive or significant, when it allows so much "water" in between the actual level of $11 billion of last year.
G20 has asked that the
There are signs that some members of the G4 are seeking to strike a deal around what they consider a "less ambitious" outcome.
5 June, Mandelson said in an interview in
In Brasilia, Amorim indicated that the demands he had been making of the US and EU in agriculture are not going to be met, and that Brazil would thus not make a better offer than what it had done in NAMA.
said that he wanted a $12.4 billion reduction in domestic support from
demands probably won't be met, so
situation seems to be developing where the US and EU are making less
demands on each other. According to Crawford Falconer (the New Zealand
Ambassador who chairs the agriculture negotiations), the
Amorim seemed to indicate,
is not clear what is being demanded of
More pressure is expected to be applied on the G33 countries on special products (SP) and special safeguard mechanism (SSM). The recent Challenge Paper (parts one and two) by Falconer attempted to dampen the positions of the G33 on both these issues, but many G33 countries are adamant that their SP and SSM proposals have to be maintained to protect their defensive interests (food security and livelihoods of small farmers).
according to trade diplomats, the
This week, there have been small-group consultations on agriculture based on Falconer's second installment of his Challenge paper, as well as meetings in parallel on NAMA in open-ended sessions.
Early this week, the NAMA
talks were on a range of issues, including treatment of unbound tariffs,
and treatment of paragraph 6 countries, small vulnerable economies and
recently acceded countries, where positions were still polarized
The NAMA talks then shifted to the most contentious issue - the tariff reduction formula. On 6 June, when the talks on this began, there remained a wide gap between developed and developing countries, and the discussion was quite heated.
to trade officials, the developed countries such as the
LTFR principle was agreed to in the
The EC also stated that the two coefficients were fair as they enable key developing countries to keep tariff averages 5 to 7 times higher than developed countries, according to the trade officials.
But developing countries were adamant that the coefficients proposed by the developed countries were unfair, as these allowed the developed countries to reduce their tariffs only slightly, while the developing countries would have to undertake drastic cuts, which is against the LTFR principle.
At the end of the session, the Brazilian Ambassador, Clodoaldo Hugueney, forcefully put forward the view that the position of having coefficients 10 and 15 "is not attainable, is not possible and it's out".
He said the "pain" to be caused by the tariff cuts has to be proportionate, balanced with negotiations in other areas, and has to be commensurate with what has to be achieved in this development round.
idea, that had previously been presented before, was put forward again