TWN Info Service on Trade
and WTO Issues (July08/53)
31 July 2008
Third World Network
Trade: Developing countries' call to reassess Doha priorities after talks fail
SUNS #6529 dated 31 July 2008, and updated
Geneva, 30 July (Martin Khor and Sangeeta
Shashikant) -- Many developing countries called for a reassessment of
the Doha negotiations following the failure
of the past fortnight's Geneva talks. In particular, they said that
one major failure of this week was that development issues, concerns
and perspectives were not taken into account at the various meetings.
views were projected at the formal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting
at the WTO this morning.
India said that during the nine days'
negotiations, it remained convinced that we can resolve the remaining
issues in NAMA and agriculture and to address services, TRIPS and Rules.
At the end, "we found it difficult to understand how we could not
come to terms with an issue that reflects the livelihoods of millions
of the poor around the world", clearly referring to special safeguard
said it is pertinent to note that the issues on which we could not make
much progress are issues central to the development mandate of the Round
- trade distorting support and disciplines, special products, SSM, cotton,
duty free quota free (DFQF) treatment for LDCs, etc.
has to be a cause for serious introspection. We have to ask why we cannot
resolve the main issues which concern developing countries in the WTO.
An answer to this is relevant for the future credibility of the WTO...
If we are to strengthen the WTO, a way will have to be found to enable
it to address the aspirations of the bulk of its membership."
India suggested that a dialogue be
initiated to consider how to take forward some issues with deep development
implications on a fast track basis, such as DFQF for all LDCs, aid for
trade, and enhanced integrated framework.
India said we are disappointed but
not disheartened. As a first step, it is important to capture the understandings
on a number of issues, and the cumulative understandings constitute
very substantial corpus of work that can be the platform for future
engagement. They are too important to be consigned to memoirs. After
a period of introspection, we need to engage on how to build a programme
to bridge the gaps.
South Africa, represented by its Trade
Minister, said the failure is a missed opportunity. In particular, it
regretted that there was no early resolution of cotton, DFQF access
for LDCs, the banana issue and tropical products and so on. "We
therefore support the proposal for an early harvest on DFQF, cotton
there will be varying assessments of the causes for the failure, we
need to reflect seriously on the systemic implications for the WTO and
the fuller integration of developing countries on equitable terms into
the global trade system.
prepare for re-starting the talks, important lessons from the last 10
days should be taken. The development agenda must remain at the centre
of the talks, with the core aim of strengthening the system to support
negotiations to succeed, we must ensure the development objectives are
given greater weight than narrow mercantilist objectives. Development
and increased trade are not synonymous... A single minded focus on trade
and market opening can also be detrimental to broader development considerations.
The construction of the agenda and the negotiation process must take
this into account.
second lesson from the last 9 days is that pursuing rigid formulas and
frameworks that ignore the specific situations and concerns of particular
members can be a recipe for failure. The system must respond and accommodate
specific concerns of particular countries.
have to reaffirm and implement principles of SDT and less than full
reciprocity in favour of developing countries, while taking into account
real differences among developing countries."
said after 10 days of hard work by ministers, China is disappointed as many others
with the setback we are confronted with in the negotiations. On the
substance in general terms, China
reiterated the importance of the development dimension that the round
should deliver, without which it could never come to a successful conclusion.
this regard, the major developed Members need to exercise genuine leadership
in the negotiations rather than engage in any unhelpful activities with
a view to shifting responsibilities onto others, including through the
media, said China.
the sake of strengthening the multilateral trading system, Members should
not give up our efforts, said China. All the
progress made should be preserved instead of being wasted and we should
resume our work as early as possible on those issues still outstanding.
Indonesia, on behalf of the G33, said
that it shared the deep disappointment expressed by many that we are
unable to achieve the objective of our meeting.
G33 has been here to engage constructively. We have showed flexibility
to move as we know the concerns of some members. The G33 was prepared
to compromise and negotiate an acceptable balance. But it regretted
that the compromise could not be reached.
G33 continues to take a positive and constructive approach. It hoped
the process will continue, whilst keeping the positive results achieved.
Argentina's Minister was deeply disappointed
and said the problems were on substance and process. On the process,
the senior officials should have tried to reduce differences and let,
if possible, the main controversial issues to be left to Ministers.
Agriculture, the work was evidently made before the meeting with broad
participation and in the text the positions and options were clearly
identified. On the other hand, NAMA was problematic because of how the
texts were presented and how a consultation group was formed (referring
to the G12 that met at the US Mission).
lack of success of the Geneva meeting was due to
the wrong insistence by developed countries to put pressure on developing
countries. The level of commitment for developing countries exceeds
that of developed countries, violating para 24 of Hong Kong Declaration.
is clear that amendments must be made to the text especially on NAMA,
and this requires structural changes so that it can be a basis of negotiations.
Only once there is compliance with the principles of the round will
it be possible to make progress in NAMA, said Argentina.
a brief statement, the US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said that
this is not the time for long speeches but rather a time for reflection.
It is not a time for name calling but for constructive leadership.
said it is a huge disappointment that we did not reach the goal, and
assured partners and the Director General that "what you have put
on the table is still on the table." There is always room for improvement
and managing the process. The difficulties of this negotiations were
not on process but on substance.
Mandelson, EC Trade Commissioner, said we have to face up to the consequences
of our failure. We did not fail for lack of time. We failed because
we lacked the political will to close the final gaps. He said we had
agreement on 90-95% of the issues at stake in modalities. This was a
deal within reach. I believe that people will look at the question on
which this round broke and shake their heads in disbelief.
EC had tabled ambitious offers including a 60% average cut in the EU's
farm tariffs, 80% cut to trade distorting subsidies, cuts to industrial
tariffs that would have left us with an average tariff of barely 2%
and no tariff over 6%.
Doha could have delivered these things in a
single package. What would have been a huge collective success, must
now be counted a massive collective failure. We have just lost the insurance
policy that would have bound in the openness of the global economy.
the autumn, after a summer of reflection, we must renew our dialogue,
nurture our relationships, said Mandelson, and talk like adults about
where we go from here. None of the politics in our countries will get
any easier. He said his team would return to Geneva,
not to take up where we left off, but to make sure what we have is not
Switzerland said even if negotiations
have not succeeded, a lot of useful work was done even if some important
issues are open. The first priority is the stabilization of all the
texts, the Chair's reports, report of the services signalling conference,
report of TRIPS consultations, this will be the basis for future work.
It said that August should be for internal reflection, and the DG has
many tools to work with, such as quiet diplomacy, technical work on
issues that are not ready for decisions, plurilateral discussion on
how to improve the process.
Colombia said that all the agreements
achieved should be reflected in a Chairman's text.
Guyana (speaking for the Caribbean
Community) said that we cannot avoid the use of the word failure because
some leading members cannot secure convergence on SSM. As members of
the G33, the Carribean Community is of view that a satisfactory outcome
of SSM is a sine qua non.
the importance of this issue, it is inconceivable and beyond our wildest
imagination that at a historic moment, we could not construct the bridge
between the legitimacy of using the SSM and possible abuse of SSM. Something
else must be at work here (to prevent an agreement).
we have treated cotton again in a shabby fashion, said Guyana.
There are clear instructions of how to deal with the C4's proposals,
to avoid the shame the world will heap on us on this issue. Let us try
and carve out some arrangement that will allow an early harvest for
cotton producing countries, said Guyana.
since we are on early harvest matter, it is necessary to note that as
this round becomes comatose, we in the Caribbean
are exposed to an early harvest on bananas. We cannot and will not subscribe
to the terms of a deal on bananas in whatever form, since that agreement
seeks to drive the final death nail into the banana industry.
EC has said that it will compensate the farmers but how it intends to
compensate for the loss of entire livelihoods is yet to be seen.
Venezuela's Trade Minister said the
WTO should take into account the demands of developing countries and
the negotiations should have the participation and approval of the entire
membership. It strongly affirmed that any results that arise from small
groups of countries or their efforts to reach conclusion of the Round
cannot and should not represent a basis of future discussion.
that the negotiations (of the past days) did not involve the full participation
of developing countries nor reflect the interests of all members, Venezuela
said we should go back to having the negotiations in negotiating groups
and that proposals made by members that are not included should be included,
so that the reports can be credible.
services, Venezuela reiterated
that the Chair of the group should limit himself to having a factual
report given on his own responsibility, since there is no consensus
on a new text.
these discussions have not led to a successful outcome, this is due
not to developing countries or any topic but to the lack of real political
will on the part of developed countries which would like to impose their
wishes and interests on the rest of the membership.
Burkina Faso, which coordinates the
Cotton 4 (the African cotton-growing countries) said that since the
start of the talks it had shown patience but now all its hopes had been
stalled. "We feel betrayed", it said. The SSM
issue had hijacked the negotiations and a deadline must be given
for completion of negotiations.
The C4 believes that the best place to discuss the cotton issue is the
multilateral framework. The C4 will continue to fight because we have
been denied the negotiation on cotton.
said it was a sad day for the multilateral trading system. As a true
believer in the system it had tried to help the negotiations.
We tried to find solutions for issues beyond the G20. The
reform of the system especially in agriculture.has been the main objective
of the G20.
said that the poorest countries will continue to be exposed to the continued
subsidization (by developed countries in agriculture). Without
the continuation of the talks, we will see multiplication of disputes.
Reform in agriculture remains key.
It has no illusion that negotiations can be quickly resumed in the future
but it agrees that members will have to return to the table. It
also expects that developed countries will not provide agriculture subsidies
beyond the levels previously agreed.
asked for reflection but also for action. We need to consider the genuine
risk caused by protectionism. It is positive to hear that although
the offers are incomplete, they continue to be current. It is not the
time to conclude that there is something wrong with the process.
We need a clear list of areas where consensus has been achieved and
where it is possible.
on behalf of the ACP, said it is a sad day but all is not lost. The
presence of Ministers have closed gaps on a number of pending issues.
How we capture this progress and chart a road map are concerns that
we have to address.
Australia said we should recognize
the enormous amount of work achieved. Our challenge is to ensure progress
is not lost. We should reflect on the failure and on best way forward.
said it had called on major players to exercise flexibilities to reach
Mont Blanc. It regretted that this plea has not been heeded.
The present difficulties are only temporary. It warned against a blame
Bolivia said for future talks, we
should avoid setting artificial dates. It proposed a change in the mandate
to enhance the development dimension. The Chairs' texts should not be
considered the only basis for negotiations, but the formal and informal
positions of members should also be considered. Various expressions
of positions should be treated equally.
problem where certain delegations felt that certain texts were not valid
should be dealt with. On the TRIPS disclosure consultations, Bolivia
had difficulty with the 9 July document as it does not cover concerns
of Bolivia that there
should be no patents on life.
Bolivia also requested that in the
Rules negotiations the reform of Article 24 of GATT (on regional agreements)
be included. It wanted to consider possibilities of including SDT and
asymmetries as principles in bilateral trade.
services, Bolivia said there
is no mandate on a text although it supported areas where there is a
consensus (such as treatment of LDCs). It also wanted the report to
include that there should be an exclusion from GATS of services that
relate to human rights, such as education, water, and telecommunications.
supported an early harvest for cotton and LDCs. It said there should
not be finger pointing on the failure. However, we should indicate that
more than 100 developing countries face problems in truly achieving
development in this round. The real problem is with mind-sets. We want
positive results but we are not achieving beneficial results with the
Cuba said the hollow rhetoric of the
rich countries on development was shown up. We need to look at the new
starting point, at how the new process will be conducted and at the
participation of members. We cannot accept that what was discussed between
a reduced number of countries can be taken as a starting point.
the process, Cuba
said many members noted that this was a process favouring a few members.
It called for changes in the direction of the WTO. It also supported
what Venezuela and
said on services.
Ghana shared the disappointment of
others. It agreed with Guyana
on the banana issue, i.e. that the ACP proposal is still on the
table. The window of opportunity for weak producers should not be abruptly
said that what we have achieved must be preserved. The WTO is
a key organisation and we must stay by it. There is nobody to do the
job for us.
on behalf of the small vulnerable economies (SVEs) said there are a
number of issues of importance to developing countries that were not
fully resolved, including duty free quota free access for LDCs and
cotton. The importance of SSM cannot be overstated. SVEs
are anxious to know that we will preserve what has been achieved.
said the EC has a ruling against it (referring to bananas) but it refused
to implement this over the last 16 years. It wanted the EC to honour
the banana agreement that had been reached (between the EC and the Latin
American producing countries) during this week.
the end of the meeting, TNC Chair Pascal Lamy Lamy invited the TNC to
take note of the statements, announced the date of the next meeting
and closed the meetng.
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