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> Director-General Pascal Lamy on
“recalibration” for Hong Kong
(July-August 2004 framework, paragraph 1.b and Annex A paragraph 4)
explanations in the agriculture negotiations backgrounder
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Proposal from the African four. First presented by Chad at an informal
meeting last week, this calls for: export subsidies on cotton to be
eliminated totally by the end of this year; 80% of trade distorting domestic
support to be scrapped by the end of 2006, with 10% each in 2007 and 2008,
leaving total elimination by 1 January 2009; disciplines to ensure only
authorized domestic supports remain; substantial improvements in market
access, with duty-free and quota-free access for cotton and cotton products
from least-developed countries; an emergency fund to help deal with
depressed international prices; and technical and financial assistance for
the cotton sector in Africa.
The group (Benin speaking) said it hopes the EU and US will bring more to
the table in Hong Kong so that the conference can produce concrete results.
EU proposal. This calls for the ministers to endorse more ambitious and
faster commitments on cotton than for agriculture as a whole and describes
in greater detail what the EU itself is willing to do both as part of a deal
and autonomously. The proposal is spelt out under headings based on the
three key words of the July 2004 framework: “ambitiously”, “expeditiously”,
“specifically”. It assumes the “recalibrated” objectives for Hong Kong mean
that ministers will not be deciding on numbers. It also says how far it is
willing to go, repeating what it had said in previous meetings.
The EU proposes ministers agree to larger reductions for cotton than in
agriculture as a whole in all three pillars (for export subsidies, which are
going to be eliminated anyway, this would be by earlier elimination). The EU
says it is willing to eliminate all duties, quotas and other quantitative
restrictions on imports from all countries, the most trade-distorting
domestic supports (AMS), and all export subsidies, from “day one” (the first
day that the final agreement is implemented), and to apply disciplines on
Blue Box subsidies from “day one”. “Moreover, on an autonomous basis, the [EU]
is prepared to give an assurance to cotton producer countries that all these
commitments will already be in place, as far as the [EU] is concerned, from
2006,” EU Ambassador Carlo Trojan told the meeting.
The discussion. The G-20 (Brazil speaking), Cuba, and the African Group
(Egypt speaking) broadly supported the African Four’s statement. The US said
it agrees that the outcome on cotton should be “more than the average” (i.e.
the general outcome in agriculture), therefore, to be meaningful, the
outcome in agriculture should also be strong. Several countries said they
would study the EU’s proposal as well.
The chairperson’s summing up. Ambassador Falconer said the decision to
“recalibrate” the objectives for Hong Kong without reducing the ambition for
the final result of the negotiation accentuates the need for even more
specific decisions on cotton at the conference. He urged members to respond
and queried whether anyone would object to a clear statement committing
members to more ambitious and quicker results in cotton.
He said he would be active in holding consultations to try to achieve
further progress before Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, he is also drafting a report to the Trade Negotiations Committee
on the agriculture negotiations, a text that will include cotton. Ambassador
Falconer said that after circulating the draft and hearing comments from
members next week, he will submit it to the Trade Negotiations Committee.
Members will then decide what to do with the text although he hopes it can
be used in some way in Hong Kong for example as an annex to a Hong Kong text
or by reference, he added.