DDA negotiations in Agriculture: New options explored for flexibilities in Market Access

Small group consultations, in Room E format, continued during the week of 29 Oct- 2 Nov 2007 whereby various new options were explored for Special Products (SPs) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM).

Starting the discussion on 29th October the Chair of Committee on Agriculture Special Session asked members to come up with new positions on the issue of SPs and SSM. G-33 circulated Room documents outlining essentially the same position on both issues however the Chair presented the new option to explore rather than debating the same old positions.

The Chair presented two options for SPs

i) To use the footnote-3 option (As per draft modalities text the small and vulnerable economies could take an average cut of 24% without compulsory minimum cut on all lines, thus most of these countries would save their lines (0-34%) from any cut therefore availing the treatment similar to SPs) for countries listen in the draft modalities text as per criteria developed for small and vulnerable economies.

ii) For other developing countries (outside footnote-3) there could be either 10% SPs with 10% (absolute) deviation from normal tariff for developing countries or 5% SPs in each of 4 bands with 5% deviation (absolute). This allowance would be in addition to a certain number of lines totally exempted from any tariff cuts.

For the SSM, chair proposed to introduce a numerical limit on the number of invocations per year so that the concerns of some members for potential use of SSM hundreds of time is taken care of. Moreover chair said, on proposals by Pakistan and Canada, that there could be some parameters or tiers for cases where members want to exceed the Uruguay Round bound rates after application of SSM.

There were mixed reaction by members on proposals in both SPs and SSM areas. G-33 reiterated to consider its Room document as basis for discussion and did not agree with any limitation on number of invocations for SSM and exceeding the UR bound rates.

Chair will continue the Room E discussion during the week starting 12th November since the developed countries would share consumption data for TRQ expansion in Sensitive Product and members would discuss the details thereafter.