Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct08/14)
SSM must be simple, operational and effective, says G33
Geneva, 16 Oct (Kanaga Raja) -- The Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) is an integral part of Special and Differential Treatment for developing countries and it should therefore be a simple, operational, effective and meaningful development instrument, the G33 developing countries said on Wednesday.
The G33 cannot accept any proposals, suggestions or new ideas which would undermine those principles -- especially if it would eventually only provide a development instrument which is clearly more restrictive and technically inoperable than the SSG for developed countries.
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The G33 also expressed concern that the recent agriculture discussions have led to the impression that additional exceptions and flexibilities are being considered for developed countries, as some kind of possible compromise solutions.
On the other hand, said the G33, S&D trade and development instruments such as the SSM have been disproportionately forced to be established with restrictive, inoperable and ineffective measures.
The G33 said that it accepted and supported the intention that continued negotiations be based on the Rev. 3 Agriculture Draft Text, whose structure and architectures are of a good basis for further negotiations. It is indeed the contents which need to be further discussed and agreed.
The Group was also encouraged that all outstanding issues such as Tariff Simplification, Sensitive Products, TRQ Creation, Green Box and Cotton have been put under further discussion.
On the SSM, the Group said that the SSM is an integral part of Special and Differential Treatment for developing countries, including Least Developed Countries, Small Vulnerable Economies and Recently Acceded Members.
"It should therefore be simple, operational, effective and meaningful development instrument. The G33 cannot accept any proposals, suggestions or new ideas which would undermine those principles - especially if it would eventually only provide a development instrument which is clearly more restrictive and technically inoperable than the SSG for developed countries."
The G33 said that this is also the logical reason why the group is of the position that paragraphs 124 to 133, apart from paragraphs 134 to 136 -- as they are presented in the Rev. 3 Draft Text -- need to be further discussed.
It is indeed a mis-perception that apart from paragraphs 134 to 136, all other elements of the SSM have been settled, not to mention agreed, said the G33.
(Paragraphs 134 to 136 relate to remedies applied by Least Developed Countries, Small and Vulnerable Economies and other developing country members.)
The G33 said that while the joint statement with the African Group, ACP and Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) of 27 July remain on the table, it is however committed to find a balanced and fair solution to each of the elements of the SSM.
"The G33 would constructively work on the effort and search for reasonable and workable disciplines or measures to the SSM. Nevertheless, it cannot be by undermining specific principles which in the end delivers a useless trade and development mechanism for developing countries."
The Group provided some of its reactions and views to the recent discussions on SSM, especially on paragraph 136.
First, said the G33, there was a proposal particularly for paragraph 136. Two tiered triggers architecture with specific numbers on the remedies were suggested.
The G33 said that it technically observes that it would still only provide an SSM which is operationally restrictive and ineffective. This is not only in terms of the very high triggers, but also the effectiveness of the remedies for certain tariff profiles or structures, in addressing the problem faced by developing countries.
The Group remained of the view that it is indeed the contents of paragraphs 134 to 136 which need to be further discussed and agreed.
Second, on a mandatory price cross-check mechanism -- the SSM shall be effective in addressing a problem and it just cannot wait until the damage comes into place or has critically affected the millions of small, poor and vulnerable farmers.
A cross-check mechanism would only provide additional burden to a mechanism, which is an integral part of S&D, for developing countries, SVEs and LDCs. On this specific element, the Group would also like to emphasize that the SSM cannot be more restrictive than the SSG.
Third, said the G33, the SSM is basically a trade and development instrument to address specific problems of import surge and price declines. These two major problems faced by most developing countries cannot be easily predicted or assumed that it could be dealt with by providing predetermined restrictions of period of applications. It has been proposed that remedies can only be applied based on a calendar year coupled with a new suggested concept of a "one year on and one year off" period of applications.
The G33 said that these kinds of ideas will not be considered by the group, since again, it would restrict even more the implementation of the SSM.
"Fourth, our negotiating partners have continued to argue that the SSM would only be blocking trade, in particular, the normal trade without taking into account the growth factor. Since the beginning, G33 Members are evenly committed with their intentions of good faith and strong will, not to undermine these concerns."
Yet, said the G33, it is also of the view that these concerns should have already been accommodated by the discussions in the method of calculating the triggers, through a three-year rolling or moving average. Additional methods of an even more cumbersome nature in calculating the triggers for developing countries is not acceptable to the Group.
"It seems that paragraphs 134 to 136 as it stands now, only relates to the volume based SSM. It should also be clear that the price based SSM is also of great interest not only to the G33, but also to many developing countries outside the Group."
The G33 underscored that the entitlement of remedies going beyond the pre-Doha bound level shall be available not only to volume-based, but also to price-based SSM.
The SSM is not only the interest of certain developing countries, but it should be understood that it is of interest to the majority of developing countries, whether they are Members of the G33, large or small, Least Developed Countries, Small and Vulnerable Economies or Recently Acceded Members.
With this kind of framework, the Group said that it expects that all segments of the developing countries should, in a more balanced manner, be included and involved in the "Walk in the Woods" discussions on SSM.
The Group was also of the standpoint that without significant movements and flexibilities by other Members on all outstanding issues, including on Special Products and SSM, "our discussions will not be able to deliver the progress that we all want." +