TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct07/12)
11 October 2007
Negotiations relating to the Doha Round are progressing slowly, with the talks focusing mainly on agriculture export competition early this week, according to WTO diplomats.
The agriculture negotiations in the "Room E" format (comprising 36 selected delegations) re-opened Monday after a two-week break and centered on food aid. The discussion for at least the first part of this week is expected to cover a range of export competition issues.
Later this week or next week, the more sensitive agriculture "pillars" of market access and domestic support are expected to be discussed.
The talks on non-agricultural market access (NAMA) are expected to take a back seat in the next two weeks, while diplomats attempt to clear the backlog and the blockages in agriculture.
week, the chair of the NAMA negotiations,
This seems to be the reason why the NAMA talks may take a "breather" while awaiting results, if any, in agriculture.
However, the NAMA issue could have a significant development on Tuesday, when the WTO's General Council meets. Some groupings of developing countries, including the NAMA 11, are preparing to present a statement on the principles they want to see followed in the outcome of the NAMA talks.
The groups would like to make clear that the NAMA draft modalities text of the Chair should be assessed in the light of these principles, and on that basis significant changes would have to be made.
At the last General Council meeting in July, a joint statement by several developing country groupings had criticised the Stephenson draft for being biased against the developing countries, and for not adhering to the mandated principles of less than full reciprocity and the need for balance in the ambition levels between agriculture and NAMA.
Last week, several "Room E" meetings of selected delegations were convened by Stephenson. In meetings earlier in the week, there was little convergence achieved even on so-called "non core" issues such as the special treatment to be accorded for small and vulnerable economies (SVEs), for "paragraph 6" countries (members which have presently bound less than 30 per cent of their industrial tariff lines) and recently acceded members (RAMs).
On Friday (5 October), the NAMA "Room E" meeting for the first time discussed the application of the tariff-reducing Swiss formula. According to some diplomats, there was little movement from already known positions. Developing countries that are affected by the formula are against the range of coefficients (19 to 23) to be applied to developing countries' industrial tariffs proposed in the Chair's draft.
An issue that emerged was whether a developing country to which the Swiss formula applies and which is a member of a customs union whose membership includes least developed countries or small and vulnerable economies can have more lenient treatment (such as a higher coefficient or more flexibilities).
order to cushion the effects on the LDC members, countries like
is understood that the case of Mercosur was also introduced in the Room
E meeting in the same vein, as
However, there was no agreement on how to treat these cases.