TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb08/07)
11 Feb 2008
reporting on what Pascal Lamy said on the situation of the
This article was published by SUNS on 6 Feb 2008. Reproduction requires permission from SUNS (email@example.com).
The Director-General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, told the General Council Tuesday that the political conditions for reaching a deal on the agriculture and NAMA modalities have clearly improved, and "we are, I believe, on the last lap and we have started the final sprint towards establishing modalities."
was reporting to the General Council on the
The General Council is holding its first meeting (5-6 February) of the new year.
Among the items on its agenda are the annual appointment of officers to the various WTO bodies as well as the election of the Chair of the General Council.
on the agenda are the report of the working party on the accession of
agenda item of
(A full report on these two items will appear in the next issue of SUNS.)
highlight of the Tuesday morning meeting was the issue of the ACP-EC
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), which was placed on the agenda
of the General Council at the request of
In its communication to the General Council dated 25 January (WT/GC/W/585), Brazil said that it is concerned that the new agreements may include clauses that require the extension to the EU of any preferences, on a line-by-line basis, made to other parties under regional agreements or under arrangements made between developing countries.
to trade officials, at the meeting,
officials said that several Latin American countries supported
its statement on this issue at the General Council,
implications of such provisions on the meaning and intent of the Enabling
Clause would need to be carefully assessed,
cannot be allowed to be undermined in any way,
To the extent that such provisions would deter ACP members from negotiating preferential arrangement with other developing countries, the EPAs would prevent the Enabling Clause from meeting that objective.
out that its comments were preliminary as the specifics of the EPAs
have not yet been intimated to the members,
EPAs are a major event as they involve more than 100 countries from
both sides and a review of the EPAs in the WTO will provide fresh meaning
to the mandate for "clarifying and improving disciplines and procedures
under the existing WTO provisions," said
According to trade officials, the EC tried to allay fears that EPAs would affect South-South trade. The EC was of the view that the EPAs will be notified to the WTO once they are completed.
Meanwhile, in his report to the General Council, Lamy recalled that in his report to the General Council last December, he had suggested that "we were getting closer to achieving the major goal we all share - establishing modalities in Agriculture and NAMA."
He said that "Today, I would like to report that the political conditions for reaching a deal on the modalities have clearly improved."
"We know that the task ahead of us is a big one, and that the time available for it is tight, but we have never been nearer to achieving it. We are, I believe, on the last lap and we have now started the final sprint towards establishing modalities."
Referring to the informal TNC meeting on 31 January, Lamy said that from the discussion at that meeting, "I think we are clearer about the process ahead... From the statements at our meeting, I think we have broad agreement on the urgency of what we are doing, and on the basic steps we need to take to reach a deal."
Delegations repeated that substance must drive process, and that the process must remain a multilateral one, Lamy said, adding that there was strong support for proceeding step by step and making the transition from one phase to another in the light of progress on the substance.
On the other hand, said Lamy, "we have to factor in the need for urgency. We have to reconcile these two considerations as we move forward." Lamy noted that the TNC meeting "provided less clarity on the scope of the horizontal process. This is a matter on which further consultation will be needed over the coming days and weeks."
I believe we have to work within the mandates agreed in 2001 at
"We should also bear in mind that we are working under the principle of the Single Undertaking, and that the establishment of modalities is not the end of the Round," he added.
"We all know what is happening in the world economy right now. I think we are also aware of the need for a successful outcome to the Round by the end of this year."
"The coming weeks will be an extremely intensive period for all of us, but I believe the potential results of the Round, and the benefit they can provide across the membership, are worth fighting for, and I will keep helping you doing that," he concluded.
According to trade officials, several countries asked for their statements made at the informal TNC meeting on 31 January to be put on record at the General Council meeting.+