TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Nov07/28)
30 November 2007
in SUNS #6369 dated 20 November 2007
And new "deadlines" are now being talked about as it became obvious that no breakthrough or meetings of major substance will be held in December.
new hope is that a modalities deal in agriculture and non-agricultural
market access (NAMA) can be done in March 2008. But even that is looking
too optimistic. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim spoke disapprovingly
last week in
still seem to mainly refer to the
all ties in with the uncertainty faced by other countries in negotiating
week, the G20 leaders Amorim and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath
both raised the trade promotion authority (TPA) issue following the
G20 Ministerial meeting. It was the first time that developing countries
have publicly and directly pointed to the lack of TPA in the
major uncertainty centres around the TPA in the
called on the
it looks as if the
to the comments of Amorim and
said that the
"blame game" has reached a new phase, as the negotiations
remain stuck. The
Most of the developing countries have argued that there is an imbalance between the two texts as well as imbalances within the texts and that the developed countries have to be more respectful of the development goals of the Round. And India and Brazil for the first time are saying that the uncertainties over the TPA is the major roadblock to further progress, and that the US has to now give a clear and honest picture of the prospects of a new TPA and when this can be expected.
According to some developing country diplomats, the US is reluctant to have a "mini Ministerial" anytime soon, because the US Trade Representative may not be able to make any offers or take any firm positions, probably due to the uncertainties of the TPA, the Farm Bill and the relations between the President (and administration) and the Congress.
This could be the main reason why a fortnight ago it became clear that any plans for a December deal on modalities - which has to be endorsed or concluded by a mini-Ministerial - are off.
The diplomats believe that it is partly because of this that the US is now embarking on an even more aggressive course at the Doha talks, and in this it is joined by the EU.
Amorim already some time ago (at the failed Potsdam G4 Ministerial in June) claimed that the US and EU had decided to get together, agreed to lower agriculture ambitions with regard to each other, and teamed up to extract more concessions from developing countries.
Now at the WTO, the two majors are coordinating their further assault on developing countries in NAMA and services.
According to some diplomats, the US and EU are preparing a joint NAMA paper, aimed at pressuring the major developing countries to give in, while showing some sympathy for smaller developing countries.
One version of this paper, obtained by a developing country diplomat, has 11 bullet points. They include that the NAMA outcome must have real market access gains and refers to the APEC declaration on an ambitious outcome. The paper accepts the existing Paragraph 8 flexibilities in the Chair's paper, and supports the Chair's numbers on coefficients.
It argues that the less than full reciprocity principle is being achieved through a reduction of tariff peaks and by the number of dutiable applied tariff lines that are to be cut, in participation in sectorals, a longer period of implementation for developing countries, and because flexibilities for developing countries shield their high tariffs.
The paper also rejects the proposal that members of customs unions in developing countries can get extra flexibilities, as this raises serious systemic concerns.
for other developing countries, there is to be no tariff reduction by
LDCs; the Chair's text on small and vulnerable economies and "
Also, there can be a trade-off for developing countries between the coefficient to be applied and the extent to which they make use of the para 8 flexibilities.
US and EU were expected to table their NAMA joint paper last week, but
by the end of the week no such tabling had been done. There has even
been a strong
A diplomat, who has a copy of the draft, speculated that the paper may have been withheld for the time being due to the unfavourable reference made to the paper by some of the G20 Ministers at their meeting.
The developed countries have also gone on the offensive in services. The EU and US first pushed that there be a services text to be produced to accompany the texts on agriculture and NAMA.
developing countries were initially against developing such a text,
arguing that a services text already exists in Annex C of the Hong Kong
Ministerial Declaration. In spite of their initial reluctance, the developing
countries went along with the proposal that the Chair of the services
negotiations, Ambassador Fernando de Mateo of
consultations are now turning into a negotiating process, with the
One of the US proposals is that a "Guidance" be included in a services text which instructs Members to respond positively to bilateral and plurilateral requests with a view to achieving a progressively higher level of liberalization, and to offer commitments that: (a) reflect current levels of market access and national treatment, with limited exceptions to binding current levels; (b) provide new market access in sectors where trade impediments remain.
ten developing countries (including
In another development, the Chair of the agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Crawford Falconer of New Zealand, has also told diplomats his latest plan - that there be a break in his consultations this week, to be followed by three more weeks of discussions.
This implies that there will not be a revised agriculture text at the end of November or the start of December. The new paper may thus come out only in mid-December.
Some diplomats are now predicting that the agriculture and NAMA papers may only appear in the new year.
"The talks seem to be unravelling," said a diplomat of a developing country. "Or at least the deadlines are all unravelling." +