TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues  (Oct07/05)

10 October 2007

WTO Rules Group wraps up week of discussions

Below is an article on the negotiations on rules held at the WTO recently.

It was published in SUNS on 1 October and is reproduced here with the permission of the SUNS.

Best wishes
Martin Khor

WTO Rules Group wraps up week of discussions
Published in SUNS #6334 dated 1 October 2007
By Kanaga Raja, Geneva, 28 Sept 2007

The WTO Negotiating Group on Rules held an informal meeting on Friday that wrapped up a week of discussions on fisheries subsidies and on anti-dumping.

Chairperson Ambassador Guillermo Valles Galmes of Uruguay informed members that he continues to hold the view that he would come up with his texts on anti-dumping and subsidies, including fisheries subsidies, when the Chairs of the agriculture and the non-agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations revise their draft texts.

The Rules Group held an informal meeting on Monday where it discussed fisheries subsidies. According to trade officials, the week was then devoted to consultations among delegations.

The Chair also held plurilateral consultations on subsidies in general as well as plurilateral technical discussions on anti-dumping - focussing on "zeroing". A wrap-up session was held on Friday.

On fisheries subsidies, the Chair said that the discussions on Monday (24 September) on two proposals (a revised proposal from Indonesia, and a joint proposal on special and differential treatment for developing countries from Argentina and Brazil) were "quite helpful". (See SUNS #6331 dated 26 September 2007).

According to trade officials, the Chair said that the discussions on Indonesia's paper indicated that there is a near-consensus on the prohibition of measures that promote over-capacity and over-fishing.

With respect to the Argentina-Brazil paper, Ambassador Galmes said that special and differential treatment (S&D) remains a "critical issue".

He added that the discussions showed that there is a debate on the scope of S&D: whether this special treatment for developing countries should extend to high-seas fishing, and if yes, to what extent.

On the issue of subsidies in general, the Chair reported that during the week, he held plurilateral consultations on an EU paper (GEN/135) regarding below-cost financing, and that the atmosphere was "good".

On anti-dumping, the Chair said that he held plurilateral technical discussions on the use of "zeroing" methodology in anti-dumping actions, which he said were "informative and useful".

He added that he was aware of the sensitivities of many delegations on this issue, and that this topic had been dealt with in the WTO dispute-settlement system.

However, the Group cannot declare one topic off the table, he said, noting that for some, the issue of "zeroing" is purely academic, and for some others, this was tangible and needed to be addressed.

He said that the anti-dumping discussions provided more questions than answers, and made clear that there were uncertainties about the current rules.

Ambassador Galmes also reported to members that a technical group of experts met during the week to discuss the topic of "injury determination" in anti-dumping investigations.

According to trade officials, the only intervention was from Hong Kong China, which commended the Chair for transparency and supported the release of the rules text as soon as possible.

The next meeting of the Group is in the week of 15 October. The Chair said that he would continue consultations on subsidies and anti-dumping during that week.