Director General WTO Mr. Pascal Lamy at the Cairns Ministerial:

The Director General WTO Mr. Pascal Lamy said he firmly believes that the WTO states are close to reaching the architecture of a final deal in agriculture as a sufficient level of clarity has been achieved in each of the three pillars of the negotiations to know where a landing zone may be.

Speaking at the 31st Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting he shared views with the participants on both process and substance, in particular in terms of the key gaps that remained to be bridged in the agriculture negotiations in the Doha Development Round.

“Bilateral discussions and multilateral negotiations are now running in parallel in the context of the Doha Round. The bilateral discussions are taking place at various forums. The WTO members recognise that a narrowing of the gap between key players would be an important contribution towards the overall success of the round,” he said.

Lamy, however, said, “The members also recognise that while convergence between key players can be helpful in igniting broader multilateral consensus, it cannot be a pre-requisite. In other words, there can be no substitute for the multilateral process, and all WTO members will need to, and must have their say at the end of the day.”

“No WTO member will sign onto a deal that it was not involved in drafting, or that does not take account of its interests fully,” he added.

He said several WTO members had expressed concern over the slow pace of the bilateral discussions taking place between the so-called majors recently and had cautioned that the bilateral process must not detract from the multilateral front.

“Therefore, it is my firm conviction that it is now crucial to see more serious engagement from members in the multilateral negotiations in Geneva, while recognizing, of course, the usefulness of continued bilateral activity. The two tracks - bilateral and multilateral - must be made to pressure each other. I count on your support,” Lamy told the participants.

Mr Lamy said while agriculture continued to be at the forefront of the Doha Round, “we must not lose sight of other areas of the negotiations. Industrial goods, services, trade facilitation and the entire rules-making component of the Doha Round (whether on subsidies, intellectual property, or the environment) are all equally vital to the success of this undertaking, and must not be postponed till the final hour.”

Speaking on the gaps that remained to be filled in agriculture, he said the Cairns Group had been active in setting out its offensive interests, whether on market access, domestic support or export competition, and generally speaking, has succeeded in raising the level of ambition of the Doha Round.

He, however, said on a number of issues that continued to constitute stumbling blocks in the agriculture negotiations, consensus within the Cairns Group had not yet really emerged. “And, if I am here today, it is to urge that you give that consensus priority. In other words, you must now find solutions not only to the issues that unite you, but also to those that divide you.

He said that technical work remains to be done in some areas - in particular on export competition and certain political decisions will need to be taken on the overall level of ambition across all three pillars of the negotiation. “By that level of ambition I mean, final precision on the magnitude of the cuts, size of the flexibilities, and strength of the new disciplines.”

Mr. Pascal Lamy addressed the business Community:

Mr. Lamy said that Pakistan will be provided a level-playing field for marketing its agriculture products in the developed world. At a meeting of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he appreciated Pakistan’s role in all areas of negotiations, and said he fully understood the sensitivities of the country, and would be extending all-out support on the issue of tariff cuts on its exports such as textiles and clothing in current negotiations.

He said though there was not much progress made on issues in Doha Round, a five-year programme had been chalked out to deal with 20 items directly related to environmental goods. “The programme aims at facilitating reduction in tariffs on environmental goods and services. The discussion on industrial and agricultural tariffs as well agricultural subsidies have picked up momentum that would have a visible bearing on the trade of many countries,” he said and added that the WTO was trying to reach out all stakeholders to take them on board on the new developments.

He said there was a strong camp pushing for removal of subsidies on agriculture and fisheries sectors which was being resisted by some countries.

He suggested countries like Pakistan that have great potential to enhance their trade must prepare themselves to reap benefits of tariff reductions and removal of agriculture subsidies. He, however, made it clear that unless and until the US and the EU cut rate of subsidies and tariffs, the WTO Agriculture talks would not move ahead.

He also urged Brazil, India and China to curtail their industries’ tariffs. “The issues of subsidies and industry and agriculture tariffs should be resolved in the larger interest of the developing world,” he said.

Expressing his concern over delay in provision of a level-playing field to the developing countries for marketing their agricultural products to the developed world, the LCCI President Shahid Hassan Sheikh said that Pakistan had fundamental interests in further strengthening the rules governing international agricultural trade, as agriculture was the backbone of its economy.

He said Pakistan enjoyed comparative advantage with regard to a number of agricultural commodities such as wheat, rice and cotton. However, the country had not been able to translate the advantage into enhanced production and exports due to inadequate infrastructure, lack of value addition technologies and restricted access to markets of developed countries, such as USA and EU.

He said Pakistan’s agricultural exports faced competition from the local products in developed countries, which were subsidised not only at the market stage but also at the production level. Besides these subsidies, he said, the developed countries had high tariff and non-tariff barriers that barred Pakistan from increasing its agricultural exports to these countries.

He said anti-dumping duty were another area of serious concern for Pakistani business community. “We are often been subjected to anti-dumping duties. How can the private sector industries sell below cost? We hope that the Doha round can make the necessary changes so that there is no arbitrary levy of anti-dumping duties.”

“The cost of failure of this round is enormous for any business community anywhere in the world therefore we must recognize this and strive for the successful conclusion of this round” said Mr. Lamy.