Agriculture negotiations to resume in Room E format next week

The negotiations on Agriculture in Room E format (group of 30 plus countries) finished a two weeks cycle before one week pause and then resumption for final week starting from 29th October 2007. Members discussed various important issues in all three pillars during the two weeks period ended on 19th Oct. However there was no significant convergence on most of the important issues. Some members showed willingness to engage on middle of the ground options but Chair mentioned that we have too short time and it would be better to show concrete positions rather than rhetorical language.

On Domestic support there was no significant movement except the U.S position, shown last time, to work within the ranges. However Japan and EC said that in cases of exceptional flexibility to the U.S for base period (i.e. 1995-2004) same treatment should be accorded to all members. In Green Box the main issue was the demand by developing countries to allow for provisions like stockpiling for food security etc, whereby the opponents said that this should be classified in other forms of Domestic Support since there might be an element that is not "totally green".

In the Market Access area discussion started with the issue of Sensitive Products. The Cairns group and other supported reiterated their case that Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) expansion on the basis of domestic consumption at the product level while EC and G-10 insisted on TRQ expansion based on HS-8 digit level. Pakistan also mentioned that EC's approach would have significant impact on overall ambition in Market Access. EC agreed to sit down with the demanders and discuss these technical issues based on consumption data available.

The issues of Preference Erosion and Tropical Products were discussed together since there is a clear overlap in Tropical and Preference receiving products. ACP has submitted a new proposal asking for broader coverage than proposed by the draft text and a longer implementation period of 25 years. Proponents of the Tropical products vehemently opposed this proposal as it will affect most of the tropical products. Pakistan also asked for a reasonable approach and did not accept the ACP list and approach as it exceeds the mandate and does not address the issues of preferences in reality rather adds towards flexibilities for the developed countries (preference giving countries like EC). With this proposal all of the products of Pakistan's interest i.e. Rice, citrus and mangoes etc would not have any tariff cut and improved market access. The Chair asked to work on a reconciliatory basis and come up with some adjustment in the next week otherwise there will be no solution prescribed by the Chair in next revision of the modalities text.

The next week is supposedly the final week before final revision of the Chair's draft modalities text. Special Products, SSM, Tariff Escalation, Tropical Products, Commodities and Preference Erosion are the agenda for final week.