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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June 07/11)

17 June 2007


G20, G33, NAMA 11 hold Ministerial meetings at WTO

Major groupings of developing countries held meetings of their Ministers and senior officials at the WTO on 11 June, ahead of crucial negotiations scheduled to take  place in the next few weeks.

At a press conference, the Trade Ministers of Brazil (Celso Amorim), India (Kamal Nath) and Indonesia (Mari Pangestu) expressed optimism that the developing countries would be able to maintain their unity in the meetings of the G4 in the next ten days and in the negotiations on modalities on agriculture and NAMA which are expected to start in a fortnight.

All three Ministers stressed that the major demand of the developing countries is that there be real and effective cuts in the overall trade distorting domestic support (OTDS) of the developed countries.

Below is an article on the meetings, which was published in SUNS on 12 June.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN

G20, G33, NAMA 11 hold Ministerial meetings at WTO

By Martin Khor (TWN), Geneva,11 June 2007

Major groupings of developing countries held meetings of their Ministers and senior officials at the WTO on Monday, ahead of crucial negotiations scheduled to take place in the next few weeks.

The G33 and G20 met this morning, then the G20 held a meeting that included coordinators of other groupings, such as the G33, Africa and LDC groups. A Ministerial meeting of the NAMA-11 was held in the afternoon.

At a press conference, the Trade Ministers of Brazil (Celso Amorim), India (Kamal Nath) and Indonesia (Mari Pangestu) expressed optimism that the developing countries would be able to maintain their unity in the meetings of the G4 in the next ten days and in the negotiations on modalities on agriculture and NAMA which are expected to start in a fortnight.

All three Ministers stressed that the major demand of the developing countries is that there be real and effective cuts in the overall trade distorting domestic support (OTDS) of the developed countries.

A statement issued by the G20 after its meeting with developing country groupings says that there should be "real and effective cuts" in domestic support, especially in relation to OTDS "for which a low-teen number reflects the only possible outcome." (See separate article).

On special products, both Pangestu and Nath said that the G33 are now engaging with the G4 members on the issue of indicators.

G33 sources said that the US is asking for the number and scope of indicators to be reduced, while the G33 in a statement today said that the G33 revised list of indicators (adopted at the G33 Ministerial meeting in Jakarta) is the basis for the discussions.

According to diplomats who attended the G33 and the G20 meetings, many members of these groupings insisted that the groups strongly adhere to their stated positions, especially on special products and special safeguard mechanism for the G33, and on real cuts to OTDS and the need for disciplines for the Green Box for the G20.

At the briefing, Amorim (who coordinates the G20) said that he and Nath briefed the groups about the G4 process. On the process, it was important that members retain confidence in the group, and that what is discussed at the G4 process be decided by all WTO members in Geneva. He stressed that the G20 plus other groupings were able to reconcile their positions, even though there were differences and nuances.

Nath said that the developing countries have voiced their view that the content of the Round is as important as meeting the timeline. This is a historic opportunity to correct structural flaws in agricultural trade through effective and real cuts in OTDS.

"We must correct the flaws first then move on to the flows", he said, referring to the distortions caused by agricultural subsidies (flaws) and the demand by developed countries for "new trade flows" or market access (flows).

Nath said the G33 is now engaging with the G4 on indicators regarding SPs. While developed countries look to promoting the prosperity of their farmers, developing countries are looking to livelihood security of their farmers. There is a clash in this. There is also need for balance between the NAMA and agriculture negotiations.

Pangestu (whose country, Indonesia, chairs the G33) stressed the need for substantial and effective reduction in OTDS of developed countries, while there is need to maintain flexibilities for developing countries in SP and SSM. "We are now seeing progress in discussion on indicators (for SP); we are being constructive."

The Trade Minister of South Africa stressed that it was important to ensure that whatever the outcome, it must address development concerns. The Tanzanian Trade Minister said the smaller developing countries were anxious that the results of negotiations (held outside the WTO) are brought back to the table for everyone to see. There had been no new offers made (by developed countries) at the WTO since the Doha talks were suspended last year.

Asked if Brazil and India should unlock the G4 talks by offering more on services and industrial tariffs, Amorim said that this is not the key to what the US and EU should do in agriculture. OTDS is the key to the Round, he added.

Nath said that the "givers should not become the takers", as this is a Development Round. The givers have to give and the takers have to take. That is the mandate of the Round, he concluded. +

 


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