Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June 07/27)
Calls for "development dimension" as WTO talks return to Geneva
WTO's Trade Negotiations Committee, which oversees the Doha
negotiations, held an informal meeting just a day after the Potsdam
meeting of the G4 ended in acrimony.
developing countries stressed the need for transparency and participation
in the renewed Geneva process.
is a report of that meeting.
for "development dimension" as WTO talks return to Geneva
Martin Khor (TWN), Geneva,
26 June 2007
the collapse of the G4 talks and probably of the G4 itself as a group,
WTO members are welcoming the return of the Doha
negotiations back to the WTO's headquarters in Geneva.
was one major outcome of an informal meeting of the WTO's Trade Negotiations
Committee, which oversees the Doha negotiations,
held just a day after the Potsdam
meeting ended in acrimony.
the only horse left in the race, and everyone seems committed to it,"
said a trade official.
all members that spoke said that they supported the continuation of
the Doha negotiations, and at the WTO. Several developing
countries however also stressed that progress would depend on the "Development
Dimension" being fully reflected, and on a transparent and participatory
also said that while the Chairs of the negotiating groups were asked
to prepare negotiating texts, they should do so under the guidance of
all the Members. Members should negotiate with one another and not with
the Chairs, said some countries including Nigeria and Bangladesh.
TNC meeting on late afternoon of 22 June was convened in an atmosphere
of crisis, as the sudden closure of the Potsdam
meeting was unexpected.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy reiterated at the meeting that G4 convergence
would have been helpful but was not indispensable. This is not a negotiation
among four players but a collective endeavour among all participants,
in a single undertaking with a broad agenda and development at its heart.
It is timely to reassert these basic principles.
stressed that the core of the negotiations is the Geneva process, the only place where decisions
can and should be taken. The Chairs of the Agriculture and NAMA groups
are working on revised texts. "The need now is for urgent action
to restore confidence that these negotiations can and will be finished
suggested that from now on, the process would be conducted by the Chairs
members then gave their own accounts of what happened in Potsdam.
The European Union said that the problem was the "exchange rate"
in the triangle of issues (agricultural subsidies, agricultural market
access and NAMA).
balance of fairness is key to the Round. The "landing zone"
in agriculture can be seen and it had taken the EU to the limits of
what it can do in tariff cuts. But more has to be seen on NAMA in the
landing zone. Emerging markets have to make more efforts than other
developing countries. The G4 process has run its course but the EU is
committed to the WTO process.
United States said that the challenges
now are daunting, as time is short. In Potsdam, there was important progress in agriculture
but this was conditional on progress in other areas, especially high
ambition in NAMA.
US said that it was not impossible
to have both high ambition and special and differential treatment. However,
the fastest growing markets are the emerging markets and simple fairness
must be part of the equation. It would be irresponsible to squander
what has been achieved. The US
said that it was prepared to work with the Chairs.
represented by Ambassador Clodoaldo Hugueney, said that the Potsdam failure was due to differences that
could not be bridged as the development dimension had been lost in an
attempt to make it a market-access Round for developed countries, with
developing countries having to pay the price.
Brazil gave many details on the offers
and demands in agriculture and NAMA, and on why it thought the "exchange
rate" between the obligations of developed and developing countries
being sought by the EU and US was imbalanced. The support of developing
countries for the Round depends on the development dimension.
represented by Ambassador Ujal Singh Bhatia, said that the setback in
was due to differences between G4 members on the meaning of the "development
agenda" and how it should be reflected in the Round. This fundamental
divide has to be addressed by the entire membership if the multilateral
process is to succeed in the coming weeks. The core political issue
had to be resolved - how to give full effect to the development mandate.
details of the statements by Brazil
and India were reported
in SUNS #6279 dated 26 June 2007.]
Jamaica, represented by Ambassador
Gail Mathurin, spoke on behalf of the ACP Group and the G90, which includes
the ACP, the African and the LDC Groups.
expected that despite the disappointing Potsdam
events, the multilateral process will continue and that this process
will be transparent, inclusive and member-driven.
also expected that any future texts on draft modalities will be balanced
and take fully into account the interests and concerns of all members,
especially those in the G90. It further expected that there will be
sufficient time given to analyze and consult on the contents of these
draft texts, to allow an effective response.
we move to the consideration of draft modalities, we continue to insist
that a Round committed to development should demonstrate this by placing
the specific needs and interests of developing countries, including
the G90, at the core of the deliberations," said Ambassador Mathurin.
do so successfully, any text on draft modalities must cover the range
of issues which have been put on the table by developing countries.
We will not be able to accept partial modalities."
reiterating the commitment to participating fully in the multilateral
process, Ambassador Mathurin said that "at the same time, we cannot
sacrifice content in order to meet some timeframe, and that content
must fully deliver the development dimension."
represented by its Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Li Enheng, said
that in discussing the Potsdam
failure, the responsibility and blame should not be shifted onto any
third party that is not involved in the process.
is because that third party, referred to on one recent occasion by a
developed Member, has never been pressing other developing countries
for concessions beyond the latter's capabilities at any time and any
place. On the contrary, the developing third-party country as referred
to fully understands the position and difficulties of other developing
was presumably referring to news reports that US Trade Representative
Susan Schwab had said that apparent "backtracking" by Brazil and India
on certain offers of industrial tariff cuts was mainly due to their
concerns about China.]
China said that to make progress within
any process, either plurilateral or multilateral, we need sufficient
political will and flexibilities from all sides, particularly the leadership
from the major developed Members.
the major developed Members want to take much from the developing Members,
they have first and foremost to decide what they are ready to give to
a balance of and a right proportionality between request and offer and
without stopping the lip-service and replacing it with concrete actions
by taking into serious account the development dimension of the round
and fully accommodating the special difficulties of the developing Members,
we could never have a successful conclusion of the negotiations, said
Ambassador Love Mtesa, on behalf of the LDC Group, said that the Group
expected that all countries will ensure that the development dimension
of the round must be kept to the fore.
is in all of our interests to ensure that the level of ambition, as
regards development, remains high. While the Potsdam
failure makes the task of concluding the round that much more difficult,
it should not be seen as the end of the Round, he said.
Mtsea stressed that "we should avoid sacrificing substance or principles
in the process" and that the Geneva
process should be transparent and inclusive. "We should now deal
with the core issue of development, which is the raison d'etre of the
said that it shared the disappointment over the Potsdam failure, and understood that it is not
easy to impose technical solutions on deeply unresolved political issues.
What we need now is a political commitment from all members to remain
engaged in the multilateral process in Geneva.
Indonesia fully supported the bottom-up
multilateral approach, for there is no better alternative. It stressed
that transparency and inclusiveness of all members must and should be
maintained. Only through a genuine process of dialogue and negotiations
involving the whole WTO membership can results be achieved.
Ambassador Yonov Agah said that with the Potsdam setback, the multilateral
process should proceed in earnest, but in a manner that enables Members
to negotiate among themselves rather than with the Chairs.
Nigeria expects that the WTO, as a
rules-based organisation, would make decisions on the basis of the rules
and the bottom-up approach, which should be transparent and inclusive.
"We need to ensure that emphasis is on the development content
of the outcome, rather than time-lines," it said.
Africa, which coordinates the NAMA-11 group, lamented
the failure at Potsdam.
It said that the key challenge in the Doha
mandate was the removal of distortions, created by high levels of subsidies
in the large developed countries that continue to undermine the development
and livelihoods of the majority of poor rural people in developing countries.
Doha mandate also emphasized the need to remove
tariff peaks, high tariffs and tariff escalation in industrial tariffs,
in particular on products of export interest to developing countries.
Developing countries too were to contribute but based on the principles
of less than full reciprocity and Special and Differential Treatment.
said South Africa, the reports from Potsdam suggest that the US, which
was perceived to be the main cause of the suspension of the Round in
June 2007, failed to put forward an offer to make effective cuts in
its trade distorting domestic support. The EU too failed to put forward
a new offer that would create new trade flows and real market access
both the US and the EU
have insisted on developing countries reducing their tariffs on industrial
products that would have devastating effects on their industrial production
and employment. A Swiss 18 coefficient cut of over 58% that the EU and
US have demanded is also totally out of proportion to their own offers
in NAMA where they will only make a cut of 25%, said South Africa.
added South Africa, the positions taken by the EU and
the US in Potsdam are not a basis for a successful outcome
in the Doha Round. Their proposals will only exacerbate the existing
inequities and imbalances in the trading system and undermine the possibility
of achieving a fair, balanced and development-oriented trading system.
EU and US, the largest beneficiaries of the world trading system since
the Potsdam conference in 1945, need to show leadership and ensure that
we all work together to create a new world from which all countries
will benefit, rich and poor, big and small. This is the only sustainable
basis for the conclusion of the Doha Round and the Doha Development
Bangladesh said that it never understood
why agriculture has remained outside the rules of the multilateral trading
system and why the industrialised countries are getting special and
differential treatment. It stressed that the Doha Round should not be
held hostage to any other processes outside the multilateral process.
also stressed that the Chairs of the negotiating groups could not go
ahead in formulating texts by themselves. Members should not negotiate
with the Chairs but among themselves.
Ecuador also said that the G4 process
should not be replaced by a process that is not transparent.
TO MAIN | ONLINE
BOOKSTORE | HOW TO ORDER