TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov07/06)
2 November 2007
Published in SUNS #6347 dated 19 October 2007
The following article is reproduced here with the permission of the South North Development Monitor (SUNS). Any reproduction or re-circulation requires permission of the SUNS (email@example.com).
The leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa, at a summit meeting at Tshwane (South Africa), have reaffirmed their commitment to carry out the Doha Round of trade negotiations at the WTO towards an outcome that is "fair and acceptable to all".
This commitment came in a joint declaration by the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, following the 2nd Summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum held in Tshwane, South Africa on 17 October.
In their summit declaration, the three leaders noted that the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations is entering a critical stage, and that these negotiations are now in a genuine multilateral process, with draft modalities texts for agriculture and industrial goods that provide a good basis for negotiations.
[The joint declaration comes just as the chair of the agriculture negotiations at the WTO has been conducting consultations among some 36 representative delegations since last week on various issues under the export competition, domestic support and market access pillars.
[While the Chair, Ambassador Crawford Falconer of New Zealand, has cited a reasonable degree of progress on export competition issues discussed last week, such appears not to be the case with domestic support and market access issues being discussed this week.
[A report in the "WTO Reporter" cited Falconer as saying on 17 October that there has been little new that has emerged from the discussions this week. Not a lot has emerged in discussions on the treatment of sensitive products and subsidies for cotton. The media report also cited Falconer as saying that there was nothing more to say on the issue of trade-distorting farm support, and that a decision on the support figures would have to be made at the political level.
[At a meeting of the General Council on 9 October, four developing country groupings - the ACP Group, the African Group, the NAMA-11 and the Small and Vulnerable Economies Group - stressed that the modalities for NAMA have to respect development principles including lower percentage reductions of tariffs for developing countries as well as flexibilities that suit the diverse needs of different countries.
[While not formally rejecting the draft modalities paper of the Chair of the NAMA negotiations, the proposal by the groups (the ACP, African, NAMA-11 and the SVEs) however has major points of divergence from the Chair's modalities - such as in the areas of the tariff reduction formula, the flexibilities to be given to developing countries affected by the formula cuts and special treatment to be given to categories of developing countries - the SVEs, Para 6 countries and Recently Acceded Members.]
In their joint declaration, the three leaders reiterated the importance of the development dimension of the Round and welcomed the strengthened engagement, solidarity, and cooperation among developing countries in that process.
They underlined that agriculture remains the key to the conclusion of the Round.
To truly deliver on the development benefits of the Round, they called for the "removal of long-standing distortions and restrictions in international agricultural trade, such as subsidies and trade barriers that affect the agricultural exports of and domestic production in developing countries."
The three leaders also asserted that developed countries must agree to substantial and effective cuts in the latter's trade distorting support, with new disciplines that prevent box shifting and commit to real and new trade flows in agriculture.
They underscored that meaningful and operable special and differential treatment, which includes development instruments of Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism are vital to address the concerns of developing countries with subsistence and low-income farmers.
The leaders emphasized that any progress towards achieving the above goals is "a development imperative and should not be linked with meeting the disproportionate demands by developed countries in the NAMA and services negotiations."
They asserted that developing countries have been constructive and willing to negotiate in all areas, and urged others to act with the same disposition.
The leaders recalled their commitment to making a contribution to market opening in the Doha Round in agriculture, NAMA, and services that will create new trade flows.
They said that they are also committed to ensure that the process of the negotiations is not held hostage to "who goes first", and reaffirmed their conviction that all members must "move together" to arrive at a balanced and fair outcome of the negotiations.
The three heads of government stated that through constant dialogue, reciprocal flexibility, non-dogmatic approach and good faith efforts, full modalities in the agriculture and industrial goods negotiations could be achieved before the year-end, together with equivalent results in other areas. They also reaffirmed their commitment to achieving such a positive outcome within this framework.
The leaders underscored the importance of incorporating the development dimension in international discussions concerning intellectual property, and reaffirmed that intellectual property "is not an end in itself, but one of the instruments to encourage innovation for technological, industrial and economic and social development."
They also recalled that it is fundamental to preserve policy spaces necessary for ensuring access to knowledge, promoting public goals in the fields of health and culture, and a sustainable environment.
In this context, the three leaders welcomed the adoption of 45 recommendations of concrete actions regarding the "Development Agenda" by this year's WIPO General Assembly, as well as the establishment of the WIPO Permanent Committee on Development and Intellectual Property.
They reaffirmed the need to reach a solution for the problem raised by the granting of intellectual property rights on biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, without due compliance with relevant provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, such as the granting of erroneous patents or the registration of undue trademarks.
In this regard, they recalled the presentation in the WTO of the proposal co-sponsored, among others, by the three IBSA countries to amend the TRIPS Agreement by introducing a mandatory requirement for the disclosure of origin, prior informed consent, and also fair and equitable benefit sharing of biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge used in inventions for which applications for intellectual property rights are filed.
The leaders also welcomed the ongoing discussion in the Inter-Governmental Working Group (IGWG) on Intellectual Property and Public Health of the World Health Organization. They stated the important role of WHO in the discussion of the impacts of intellectual property protection on public health and on access to medicines.
Apart from their joint position on the current trade negotiations at the WTO, the three leaders also laid out their views on the issue of climate change.
They called for the international community to work together on climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change "in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."
They urged all developed countries to take more ambitious and quantifiable GHG emission reduction targets in the post-2012 period under the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, they stressed the imperative of addressing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
This would also spur the Carbon market and significantly enhance the Clean Development Mechanism's contribution to sustainable development, financial flows and transfer of clean technologies to developing countries, they said, and urged that significant progress is needed in Bali in December 2007.