Commerce Minister shows optimism for developement oriented outcome of DDA

11 June 2007

            Commerce Ministers belonging to various WTO negotiating alliances including G20, G33 and NAMA-11 gathered in Geneva to hold meetings of their Groups as well as collective meetings to exchange views on the status of negotiations of the Doha Round and also to discuss their strategy in the coming weeks.

            Mr. Humayun Akhtar Khan, Minister for Commerce, represented Pakistan. Other important Trade and Foreign Ministers included Mr. Celso Amorim of Brazil, Mr. Kamal Nath of India, Mrs. Mari E. Pangestu of Indonesia, Mr. Mpahwa of South Africa and Yi Xiao Zhun of China.

            Ministers agreed that they have now entered the crucial final phase of negotiations. While they may have to show flexibility in some areas of negotiations, there are certain areas where they need to remain firm. These include reduction of trade distorting agricultural subsidies in particular deep cuts in overall trade distorting support by the United States. It was unanimously agreed that the current figure of $22 billion offered by the United States was not enough. It has to be around what the G.20 is demanding or around $12 billion. Similarly EU must agree to G20 demand on market access and limit its demand of sensitive products

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            Mr. Humayun Akhtar Khan in his interventions shared the general perception that the Round is entering the final phase. At this stage one has to be careful about the balance between flexibility and ambition. While developing countries would have to show flexibility, they should not compromise on ambition. For Pakistan it was important that while addressing issues of market access, attention must be given to fullest liberalization of tropical products, addressing tariff escalation and tariff capping etc. Issue of cotton was important for Pakistan and it fully supported the position of Cotton-4 (C-4) African countries.

            Earlier in G33 Ministerial statement, Commerce Minister Mr. Khan complimented the Group for making progress on making its indicator-based self-selection of Special Product more acceptable. He assured the Group of Pakistan’s full support in achieving its objective.

            Mr. Khan also participated in NAMA-11 Ministerial meeting. Pakistan is an observer in this Group. However, it shares the views of this Group that developing countries should have flexibility to have enough protection to keep a certain level of tariffs. Developing countries are under considerable pressure to reduce most of their tariff rates below 15% whereas NAMA-11 believes that they should be allowed to keep tariff levels of up to 25%. In addition, for 10% of tariff lines more flexibility should be given.

            Gathering of a large number of developing countries Ministers in Geneva at this crucial time would put lot of pressure on developed countries to make more concessions and not to demand high price from developing countries to open their markets.

            Commerce Minister also met Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director General of WTO to exchange views on the latest position of the Round. Mr. Khan took this opportunity to remind Mr. Lamy of issues such as increased market access for textiles and clothing, which are vital for Pakistan. Mr. Khan also met Mr. Don Stephenson, Chairman of Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations, to apprise him of Pakistan’s expectations and to indicate the limit of tariff cuts which Pakistan would be able to accept. He also stressed that developed countries should not be given longer time frame for implementation of the Doha Round commitments in particular for those tariff lines where Pakistan has export interest and is facing high tariffs.

            It may be mentioned that some countries such as Turkey, certain LDCs and Latin American countries, which are at present enjoying preferential access, are seeking a carve out for textiles and clothing. Pakistan is making maximum effort that textiles and clothing are fully liberalized so that the present discrimination, which its exporters face in developed countries, are eliminated. 

           The Press statements by G-20 and G-33 are given below:-


PRESS STATEMENT

G-20*  MINISTERIAL MEETING WITH COORDINATORS OF DEVELOPING-COUNTRY GROUPS

Geneva, 11/06/2007



  1. Ministers and High Officials of the G-20 countries and of the coordinators of the G-33, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group, the African Group, the Small, Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), the Cotton-4, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and NAMA-11 met in Geneva, on 11 June 2007, to assess the state of the play of agriculture negotiations in the Doha Round.


  2. They share the view that the Doha Round is approaching its decisive phase and that the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) by the end of the year is within reach. The G-20 and other developing-country groups reaffirmed their readiness to play an active role and to engage constructively at the highest level to move the negotiating process towards a successful conclusion. They also expect the majors to show engagement, flexibility and political will for an ambitious and balanced result.


  3. The Groups recalled that Agriculture lies at the center of the DDA. A meaningful outcome in agriculture negotiations, in line with the commitments of the Doha Mandate, should guarantee substantial and effective reduction in trade-distorting domestic support coupled with necessary disciplines to prevent box-shifting and product-shifting of support; substantial improvement in market access; and expeditious elimination of all forms of export subsidies within the 2013 deadline.


  4. The Ministers and High Officials stressed the centrality of the multilateral process in Geneva. In this regard, they noted with satisfaction that the Groups have been fully engaged in the Chairman’s “challenges paper” process. The G-20 has recently tabled comments on the “challenges papers”, trying to address the concerns of developing countries while contributing to the search for an agreed multilateral outcome.


  5. As the multilateral discussions proceed towards the definition of modalities, “balance” will be the guiding principle. Balance within Agriculture and between Agriculture and NAMA should be ascertained based on the commitment to make this Round a development Round and on the mandates contained in the Doha Declaration, the July 2004 Framework and the Hong Kong Declaration. They further reiterated their determination to achieve a balanced and proportionate outcome with a comparable high level of ambition both in agriculture and in NAMA, as instructed under Paragraph 24 of the Hong-Kong Ministerial Declaration


  6. The Ministers and High Officials noted with satisfaction that there is growing support for the view that the G-20 positions on the three pillars constitute the balanced center of gravity in the agricultural negotiations and, indeed, the only possible zone of convergence. They stressed that balance will not be found by averaging negotiating positions; balance can only be found by reference to the mandate and to the outcome in other areas of the negotiation.


  7. The center of gravity in Domestic Support should reflect the commitment to effective cuts. This is especially so in relation to the OTDS, for which a “low-teen” number reflects the only possible outcome and the position of an overwhelming majority of Members. Furthermore, a center of gravity in Domestic Support must also incorporate a combination of cuts and disciplines. Disciplines must credibly avoid product-shifting or box-shifting. It is also important to prevent accommodating trade-distorting support in the Green Box with effective disciplines, complemented by an effective mechanism of monitoring and surveillance.


  8. The center of gravity in Market Access is of particular sensitivity due to the completely different characteristics of agriculture in developed and developing countries. The G-20 proposal continues to present the most balanced possible outcome in this pillar, combining ambition together with respect for the sensitivities of developing countries. It is the middle ground that is achieved by the combination of the tariff cut formula structure and the benchmarks for average cuts of at least 54% for developed and of a maximum of 36% for developing countries. Furthermore, proportionality is essential, as mandated by the July Framework, as well as the appropriate combination of tariff cuts and flexibilities.


  9. They underscored the importance of Special and Differential treatment (S&D) for developing countries in all areas of the negotiations. In this context, they emphasized the overall proportionality in tariff reduction commitments and the vital role of SPs in addressing the food security, rural development and livelihood concerns of developing countries. They also emphasized that SSM shall be an integral part of the modalities and the outcome of negotiations in agriculture.


  10. They reaffirmed the need to address the issue of cotton ambitiously, expeditiously and specifically in its trade-related and developments aspects. They recognized the need to implement the Hong Kong Ministerial Decision on Duty Free and Quota Free market access for the LDCs with regard to developed-country Members and developing-country Members declaring themselves in a position to do so. They stressed the need to effectively address the concerns of recently acceded developing Members and trade-related issues raised by SVEs as well as the concerns of NFIDCs. They further recognized the need to address the issue of tropical products and products of particular importance to the diversification of illicit crops production. They fully recognized the significance of long-standing preferences and the need to address the issue of preference erosion.


  11. The Ministers and High Officials are firmly committed to work constructively and to engage with a positive spirit. As we enter this possibly final stage of negotiations, the G-20 and other developing-country groups reaffirmed their fundamental unity and their engagement in the effort to achieve an ambitious and development-oriented outcome from the Round. This will strengthen the multilateral trading system and inscribe development at the heart of it.


  12. Developing countries’ support to the urgent conclusion of the Round is contingent upon a result that, in each area of the negotiations and in the overall balance of the single undertaking, fully delivers on the commitment to make this a development round, by placing the interests and needs of developing countries, especially the least-developed among them, at its heart. We are convinced that this is indispensable and achievable, in spite of the time constraints.


* Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philipines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.




Press Statement
G-33 Ministerial/High Officials Coordination Meeting
Geneve, 11 June 2007

 

  1. G-33 Ministers/High Officials present in Geneva on 11 June 2007 met to evaluate the state of play of agricultural negotiations in the Doha Round.


  2. Ministers welcomed recent developments that foreshadow strengthening of the political will to conclude the round by the end of the year and the ongoing intensive efforts to bridge divergences among members in all pillars of agriculture centered on the multilateral process in Geneva.  This is imperative to ensure transparency, inclusiveness, and a bottom-up approach, as well as the legitimacy of the outcome of the process.  In this connection, they urged developed country members to demonstrate leadership by translating their political commitments into tangible results and movements in their negotiating positions.


  3. Recalling that the Doha Declaration, the Framework Agreement of July 2004 and the Hong Kong Declaration contain a clear mandate to WTO members to secure the needs and interests of developing countries, Ministers reiterated that a key measure of the success of this Round would be the substantial positive impact on the welfare of resource-poor and vulnerable farmers in developing countries across the globe.  The Ministers affirmed the view that the food security, livelihood security and rural development needs are vital human concerns.


  4. Ministers emphasized the devastating effect of huge trade distorting subsidies and market access barriers in developed countries to developing world farmers.  Therefore, it is essential that the outcome of the negotiation upholds the proposals of developing countries, resulting in real and effective substantial reductions of the overall trade distorting domestic support  backed up by meaningful disciplines, together with developed Members elimination of all forms of export subsidies and their substantial improvement of market access for exports from developing countries.


  5. Ministers reiterated their readiness to contribute and to engage constructively towards making the necessary decisions to achieve a fair and balanced result in agriculture.  They once again emphasized that early convergence on the critical instruments of Special Products (SPs) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) was a key element to delivering on the development goals and aspirations of the majority of developing countries and who account for more than two-third of the WTO membership. 


  6. While expressing their readiness to be responsive to significant movements in the positions held by the developed countries and contribute to the successful conclusion of the Round, Ministers underscored that the mandate on Special Products does not require developing countries to provide any compensation including through tariff quota commitments. Ministers were firm that some SPs shall be exempted from tariff reduction, while others shall have lesser cuts.


  7. While the G-33’s proposal remains on the table, Ministers also welcomed the readiness of developed members to discuss, in greater detail, the Indicators that will guide the self-selection of Special Products. They reiterated that the revised list of Indicators discussed in the last G33 Ministerial in Jakarta and which was supported by the ACP, Africa and SVE groups, should serve as the basis for these discussions.


  8. The Ministers also reaffirmed that the Special Safeguard Mechanism remained an integral part of the modalities of the WTO agriculture negotiations. They underscored that, in the absence of safety nets in developing countries, an effective and operable Special Safeguard Mechanism would be the only instrument which can cushion developing country farmers against import surges or price declines.  They emphasized that SSM should be available to all agriculture products and that the import price and import volume triggers, applied separately, should alone  determine which product needs the invocation of the SSM at any given time. They reiterated that to uphold the integrity of special and differential treatment the terms and conditions of the mechanism should be more favourable than the existing provisions of Article 5 of the Agreement on Agriculture.


  9. Ministers reaffirmed the Jakarta Communiques and the unity of the G33 and their common committment to engage constructively with other developing country alliances and all WTO members to secure an ambitious and balanced outcome that addresses the development, food security, livelihood security and rural development concerns of small, poor and vulnerable farmers worldwide.