TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr08/06)
22 April 2008
Third World Network

Trade: Last NAMA meeting held before issuing of new text
Published in SUNS #6456 dated 16 April 2008

Geneva, 15 Apr (Martin Khor) -- The final meeting of the NAMA negotiating group before the issuing of a new modalities draft was held at the WTO on Monday, with the Chair of the group stating that differences in positions were the same as before, and that the negotiations desperately need a meeting of senior officials "as we are not near to a close yet."

The open-ended informal meeting on NAMA was held for the Chair, Ambassador Don Stephenson of Canada, to brief the members on the outcome of his recent consultations and "confessionals" with different countries and groupings, and to give an idea on the process of the next weeks.

Several new papers were also presented, including by China, the Mercosur group, the ACP counties, the USA, and other countries and groupings.

China presented its views in greater detail on the special treatment that should be provided for recently acceded members (RAMs), including a longer grace period (3 to 5 years) than had been proposed by the Chair, and lower than the usual rates of tariff reduction.

However, developed countries, especially the United States and the EU, said the Chinese proposal was "unacceptable" to them.

The proposal by Mercosur for more flexibilities in relation to the tariff reduction formula for members of the regional grouping (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) was also received coolly by the main developed country members.

Stephenson said "we need a revised text soon", but did not reveal when he will issue the new draft. The meeting, he said, did not help (in bridging the gaps between countries), and "we are where we were."

He concluded: "If you want an outcome it is within your reach. If you don't want an outcome, there's not much I can do for you."

(A more detailed report on this meeting will be in the next issue of SUNS). +