Info Service on Trade and WTO Issues (July08/43)
African Ministers stress issues, voice concerns on G7 process
Geneva, 25 July (Kanaga Raja) -- The African Group issued a statement on Friday outlining what it expects to see from the negotiations on agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and other issues at the WTO mini-Ministerial here. It also expressed concern over the G7 process in that not one African country was represented in this group.
Group said that seven days after arriving in
It called upon the G7 to demonstrate proper leadership and adequate political will to unblock the issues.
a statement delivered on behalf of the African Group at a media briefing
Friday, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Trade of Kenya, said that ten Ministers from the eight African countries
presence underscores the importance that the African continent attaches
statement said that in agriculture, "we expect the outcome of
these negotiations to unlock the production potential of this sector
The negotiations in agriculture therefore, should result in real and effective substantial reduction of trade distorting domestic support in rich industrialized countries, and increased market access for products of export interest to African countries. If this is done, African Countries will develop themselves via fair trade rather than relying on the diminishing aid. "We therefore expect an effective solution that will address the instability of commodity prices in the world market, which continue to adversely affect the export of our commodities."
Import surges have also continued to undermine agriculture production in African countries. The African Group therefore expects an agreement on Special Safeguard Mechanism that will effectively address import surges which mostly arise from unfair trade practices, particularly from trade distorting domestic support systems.
cotton specifically, "we expect a more ambitious outcome that
will substantially accelerate the reduction of production subsidies
in developed countries. Millions of poor people in
"We are therefore looking forward to an effective and long-term solution on cotton. Of equal importance to the trade policy aspects of the cotton issue, is the development assistance dimension," said the African Group.
is in the
the issue of bananas, the African Group would like a solution that
will not impact negatively on the African banana exporting countries.
"We are therefore in support of the current consultations initiated
by the WTO Director General on this issue with a view to arriving
at an amicable solution that will continue to facilitate exports of
African Group also said that it has concerns in both agriculture and
NAMA negotiations regarding the negative impact of tariff reductions
on preferences. Most of the exports from African countries are dependent
on preferences granted mainly by the developed countries. The erosion
of preferences will expose exports from
On non-agricultural market access negotiations, the African Group said that it is demanding for sufficient flexibilities in order to nurture and safeguard our industrial base. The African Group therefore will not accept proposals that will restrict flexibilities and thereby constrain policy space in the manufacturing sector. Sectoral initiatives must be purely on voluntary basis and should not be linked to the formula for tariff cuts.
The sectoral initiatives also must not have any impact on the preferential market access. In the context of fulfilling the development dimension of this Round, "we expect concrete commitments on the provision of assistance to enhance supply side capacity, so that African countries can take advantage of the increased market access opportunities that will arise from this Doha Round."
The Group supports proposals to amend the TRIPS Agreement to accommodate CBD issues to enable the continent to equitably share the full benefits arising from its enormous biodiversity resources.
The group attaches great importance on the development aspect of the extension of geographical indications as well as their registration. This will protect the originality of the African products and enhance both the market potential for resources emanating from the continent and the accrual of tangible benefits to the African Countries from which these resources originate. It will also be a good marketing tool that will ensure that African products do not lose identity in the global markets.
said rules resulting from these negotiations in all areas, must not
constrain the process of
The Group stated that the negotiating process in this Mini-Ministerial has demonstrated the need for more work to be done in improving WTO decision making, inclusiveness, openness and transparency.
"We are deeply concerned that in the Group of Seven (G7), not one African country was represented in a round that purports to be about development. This does not augur well for the future of global governance."
The African Group called upon the G7 to demonstrate proper leadership and adequate political will to unblock the issues that have obstructed the timely conclusion of the negotiations that should lead to the development of modalities in agriculture and NAMA.
want to point out in this regard that we from
would want to recall at this point that when this DDA was launched,
we did not demand for the
"We came into the round in good faith convinced it would be truly a development round that would help our African continent that is the most need of development to be able to pull out of abject poverty and join the rest of the world as an equal partner in global trade," the statement said.
this point in time therefore, seven days after arriving in
"We therefore once again call upon this Group to make the necessary political decisions to ensure that we as the representatives of the Global trading communities do not fail our people. This is a historic moment and we must seize this opportunity to ensure that we succeed. Failure is an option that we cannot afford," said the African Group statement.
Asked at a media briefing Friday as to what would be the bottom line for the G7 to deliver, Mr Kenyatta said that the G7 is shouldering a responsibility. "They have been meeting for the last two days, while we as the African Group, have been waiting in the waiting room."
we are saying is that leadership also comes with responsibility. That
the issues pertaining to the G7 should not be the only issues at the
table. They need to realize that there are over a 150 different countries
"We have been patient." he said, adding: "We have understood that there is need for that smaller group to indeed engage, but what we are saying is we cannot wait forever. We need a result."
Deputy Prime Minister of
He said that there are issues of great concern to us -- preference erosion, bananas and cotton.
On LDCs, he said that the text remains unclear on what products will be offered on duty free and quota free to all the LDCs. On Aid for Trade, he said "we are asking for flexibility, we are asking for time in order to help build productive capacity in our countries in order to take advantage of market opening."
On behalf of the ACP, the Minister said that "some of us were in the Green Room but we have accepted the process because at times, you need efficiency, because we want a successful round, but we want our concern also to be addressed and we hope that we'll find a solution that is fair, that is balanced, that is comprehensive, but that doesn't forget the middle D (Development) in the DDA (Doha Development Agenda)."
Deputy Minister of
Yet, surprisingly, she said, we have been faced with new facts like increasing trends for eliminating the flexibilities; or the anti-concentration clause; or trying to link the sectorals with the formula and coefficients in NAMA, which she said, was supposed to be voluntary.
She also said that the cotton issue was not raised in the G7 consultations. This is why we call upon the G7 to put our priorities, as a priority for the consultation, because this is a development round, and without addressing the development needs of the African Group, "we don't see any benefits for us from this round." +