TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June 07/12)
17 June 2007
A key message of developing country Ministers and officials when they met at the WTO in Geneva on 11 June was that there must be substantial end effective reduction in the overall trade distorting support in agriculture of the developed countries.
Below is a report of the statements put out by the G20 and the G33 on 11 June.
South calls for effective cuts in North's domestic farm subsidies
Kanaga Raja (SUNS),
A meaningful outcome in the agriculture negotiations should guarantee substantial and effective reduction in trade-distorting domestic support (of developed countries), substantial improvement in market access, and expeditious elimination of all forms of export subsidies within the 2013 deadline.
This was one of the key messages highlighted by the Ministers and High Officials of the G20 developing countries and of the coordinators of the G33, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, the LDCs, the African Group, the Small, Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), the Cotton-4 (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali), the Caribbean Community and the NAMA-11 developing countries in a statement following their meeting here Monday.
The Ministers and High Officials said that the centre of gravity in domestic support should reflect the commitment to real and effective cuts. This is especially so in relation to the overall trade distorting support (OTDS), for which a ''low-teen'' number reflects the only possible outcome and the position of an overwhelming majority of Members.
The Ministers and High Officials met to assess the state of play in the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round.
meeting comes just before Ministers of the G4 (
In their statement Monday, the Groups recalled that agriculture lies at the centre of the Doha Development Agenda.
''A meaningful outcome in agriculture negotiations, in line with the commitments of the Doha Mandate, should guarantee substantial and effective reduction in trade-distorting domestic support coupled with necessary disciplines to prevent box-shifting and product-shifting of support; substantial improvement in market access; and expeditious elimination of all forms of export subsidies within the 2013 deadline.''
Earlier on Monday, Ministers and High Officials from the G33 also met to evaluate the state of play of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round. The G33 Ministers also called for ''real and effective'' substantial reductions of the overall trade distorting domestic support.
The Ministers and High Officials of the G20 and the coordinators of the developing-country groups shared the view that the Doha Round is approaching its decisive phase and that the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda by the end of the year is within reach.
The G20 and other developing-country groups reaffirmed their readiness to play an active role and to engage constructively at the highest level to move the negotiating process towards a successful conclusion. They also expect the majors to show engagement, flexibility and political will for an ambitious and balanced result.
Ministers and High Officials stressed the centrality of the multilateral
As the multilateral discussions proceed towards the definition of modalities, ''balance'' will be the guiding principle, said the joint statement. ''Balance within agriculture and between agriculture and NAMA should be ascertained based on the commitment to make this Round a development Round and on the mandates contained in the Doha Declaration, the July 2004 Framework and the Hong Kong Declaration.''
The Groups further reiterated their determination to achieve a balanced and proportionate outcome with a comparable high level of ambition both in agriculture and in NAMA, as instructed under Paragraph 24 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.
The Ministers and High Officials noted with satisfaction that there is a growing support for the view that the G20 positions on the three pillars constitute the balanced centre of gravity in the agricultural negotiations and, indeed, the only possible zone of convergence. They stressed that balance will not be found by averaging negotiating positions; balance can only be found by reference to the mandate and to the outcome in other areas of the negotiations.
The centre of gravity in Domestic Support should reflect the commitment to real and effective cuts. This is especially so in relation to the overall trade distorting support (OTDS), for which a ''low-teen'' number reflects the only possible outcome and the position of an overwhelming majority of Members.
Furthermore, said the statement, a centre of gravity in Domestic Support must also incorporate a combination of cuts and disciplines. Disciplines must credibly avoid product-shifting or box-shifting. It is also important to prevent accommodating trade-distorting support in the Green Box - by effective disciplines, complemented by an effective mechanism of monitoring and surveillance, while incorporating programs of developing countries that support agrarian reform, poor and small farmers and the fight against hunger.
''The centre of gravity in Market Access is of particular sensitivity due to the completely different characteristics of agriculture in developed and developing countries. The G20 proposal continues to present the most balanced possible outcome in this pillar, combining ambition together with respect for the sensitivities of developing countries.''
It is the middle ground that is achieved by the combination of the tariff cut formula structure and the benchmarks for average cuts of at least 54% for developed and of a maximum of 36% for developing countries. Furthermore, proportionality is essential, as mandated by the July Framework, as well as the appropriate combination of tariff cuts ad flexibilities, said the statement.
The Groups also underscored the importance of Special and Differential treatment for developing countries in all areas of the negotiations. In this context, they emphasized the overall proportionality in tariff reduction commitments and the vital role of Special Products (SPs) in addressing the food security, rural development and livelihood concerns of developing countries. They also emphasized that the Special Safeguard Mechanism shall be an integral part of the modalities and the outcome of negotiations in agriculture.
The Ministers and High Officials reaffirmed the need to address the issue of cotton ambitiously, expeditiously and specifically in its trade-related and development aspects. They recognized the need to implement the Hong Kong Ministerial Decision on Duty-Free and Quota-Free market access for the LDCs with regard to developed-country Members and developing-country Members declaring themselves in a position to do so.
They stressed the need to effectively address the concerns of recently acceded developing country Members and trade-related issues raised by SVEs as well as the concerns of net food importing developing countries.
The Ministers and High Officials further recognized the need to address effectively and conclusively the issues of commodities, tariff escalation and of tropical products and products of particular importance to the diversification of illicit crops production. They fully recognized the significance of long-standing preferences and the need to address the issue of preference erosion.
The Ministers and High Officials said that they are firmly committed to work constructively and to engage with a positive spirit. ''As we enter this possible final stage of negotiations, the G20 and other developing country groups reaffirmed their fundamental unity and their engagement in the effort to achieve an ambitious and development-oriented outcome from the Round. This will strengthen the multilateral trading system and inscribe development at the heart of it.''
Developing countries' support to the urgent conclusion of the Round is contingent upon a result that, in each area of the negotiations and in the overall balance of the single-undertaking, fully delivers on the commitment to make this a development Round, by placing the interests and needs of developing countries, especially the LDCs among them, at its heart.
''We are convinced that this is indispensable and achievable, in spite of the time constraints,'' concluded the statement.
Meanwhile, in their statement, the G33 Ministers emphasized the devastating effect of huge trade distorting subsidies and market access barriers in developed countries to developing world farmers.
Therefore, they said, it is essential that the outcomes of the negotiation upholds the proposals of developing countries, resulting in real and effective substantial reductions of the overall trade distorting domestic support backed up by meaningful disciplines, together with developed Members' elimination of all forms of export subsidies and their substantial improvement of market access for exports from developing countries.
G33 Ministers welcomed recent developments that foreshadow strengthening
of the political will to conclude the round by the end of the year and
the ongoing intensive efforts to bridge divergences among Members in
all pillars of agriculture centred on the multilateral process in
In this connection, the G33 Ministers urged developed country members to demonstrate leadership by translating their political commitments into tangible results and movements in their negotiating positions.
Recalling that the Doha Declaration, the Framework Agreement of July 2004 and the Hong Kong Declaration contain a clear mandate to WTO members to secure the needs and interests of developing countries, the G33 Ministers reiterated that a key measure of the success of this Round would be the substantial positive impact on the welfare of resource-poor and vulnerable farmers in developing countries across the globe.
The Ministers affirmed the view that the food security, livelihood security and rural development needs are vital human concerns.
They reiterated their readiness to contribute and to engage constructively towards making the necessary decisions to achieve a fair and balanced result in agriculture. The Ministers once again emphasized that early convergence on the critical instruments of Special Products (SPs) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) was a key element to delivering on the development goals and aspirations of the majority of developing countries and who account for more than two-thirds of the WTO membership.
The Ministers underscored that the mandate on Special Products does not require developing countries to provide any compensation including through tariff quota commitments. The Ministers were firm that some SPs shall be exempted from tariff reduction, while others shall have lesser cuts.
the G33's proposal remains on the table, the Ministers also welcomed
the readiness of developed members to discuss, in greater detail, the
indicators that will guide the self-selection of Special Products. They
reiterated that the revised list of indicators discussed in the last
G33 Ministerial in
The G33 Ministers also reaffirmed that the Special Safeguard Mechanism remained an integral part of the modalities of the WTO agriculture negotiations. They underscored that, in the absence of safety nets in developing countries, an effective and operable Special Safeguard Mechanism would be the only instrument which can cushion developing country farmers against import surges or price declines.
They emphasized that the SSM should be available to all agriculture products and that the import price and import volume triggers, applied separately, should alone determine which product needs the invocation of the SSM at any given time.
The Ministers reiterated that to uphold the integrity of special and differential treatment, the terms and conditions of the mechanism should be more favourable than the existing provisions of Article 5 of the Agreement on Agriculture.
The Ministers also reaffirmed the Jakarta Communiques and the unity of the G33 and their common commitment to engage constructively with other developing country alliances and all WTO members to secure an ambitious and balanced outcome that addresses the development, food security, livelihood security and rural development concerns of small, poor and vulnerable farmers worldwide. +