documents are revisions of drafts previously circulated in July 2007, and
May, February and July 2008. They are the result of WTO member governments’
latest positions in the discussions since September 2007, one of the most
intensive periods of negotiations since the Doha Round talks began in 2001.
The latest drafts also try to capture agreement reached tentatively on some
subjects when a group of ministers came to Geneva in
July 2008 and tried but
failed to reach agreement on these issues.
The texts are agriculture negotiations chairperson Ambassador Crawford
Falconer’s and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) chairperson Luzius
Wasescha’s latest draft “modalities”.
The papers are the chairs’ assessment of what might be agreed for the
formulas for cutting tariffs and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies,
and related provisions. After these “modalities” have been agreed, members
will apply the formulas to their tariffs and agricultural subsidies.
The two papers were circulated at about the same time because members link
the two subjects. Members now intend to move to a new phase where these
areas of the Doha Round can be negotiated in comparison with each other with
the hope that agreement can be reached later in December 2008, when a
representative group of ministers could be in Geneva.
As well as reaching agreement within each subject, members also want to
negotiate an acceptable balance between the depths of cuts (the “level of
ambition”) in agricultural and non-agricultural tariffs and agricultural
subsidies as well as the size of cuts that they desire in each area.
Drawn from WTO member governments’ positions over several months of the
negotiations, these are not “proposals” from the New Zealand and Swiss
ambassadors in the sense that “proposals” are normally understood. In other
words, these are not the chairs’ opinions of what would be “good” for world
agricultural and non-agricultural trade, but what might be accepted by all
sides in the negotiations.
From chairperson Crawford Falconer’s
I think we have made progress since July,
and the attached text, together with the separate papers, are an
attempt to capture that.
Within the text itself there are a number of square brackets that
have been deleted. It is clear that on a number of those, there
cannot be said to be formal agreement. But, in earlier versions of
the drafts where there were no square brackets, there was not always
formal agreement either. Everything is conditional in the deepest
sense in any case. But the changes made at this time now represent a
best estimate of where there is additional good reason to believe
there would prove to be consensus if everything was to come together
as a modalities package.
Negotiations and discussions that took place during the July
meetings have been a strong input in arriving at that estimate,
particularly as regards square brackets dropped in the section on
domestic support and in certain parts of market access. But in these
and in other areas, negotiations and discussion subsequent to July
has also generated or confirmed that sense. Indeed a considerable
part of the time devoted to consultations over the last few weeks
has been in checking whether things that might have hypothetically
worked in July would still work now.
By and large that has been the case, and some other issues have come
somewhat closer also since even in July. But, clearly, there is
still not formal agreement on any or all of this. Indeed, there is
still certain divergence where even the device of square brackets
has been dropped, and I have felt it was both instructive and fair
to highlight within the text itself a few points where there is
still very real divergence (sensitive products being a principal
example) or where there is, to say the least, somewhat more heat
detectable than on some others (tariff simplification being an
Of course, that conditionality remains, as always, paramount.
Certain things are manifestly not yet agreed. And, depending on
where we end up on these matters, other areas that seem relatively
“stable” may well be revisited. That is an undeniable reality in any
negotiation. It has been made pretty clear to me in consultations
generally, and on a subject like Special Products in particular
where Members concerned would, I suspect, be able to go with what is
in the text at a pinch. But whether or not that actually happens
will be contingent on overall balance — including not just other
parts of the agriculture text but elsewhere in the negotiations. And
that balance can be decisively affected by where elements that are
still not settled end up. The same can be (and has been) said for
any issue you choose: domestic support; export competition; etc. But
it is still more responsible in the present circumstances, I
believe, to describe the glass as (albeit conditionally) half-full
rather than half-empty. We are, after all, trying to get to an
agreement rather than to find additional reasons why we cannot.
There are other areas where progress has been made since July, but
it has not made it to the point where there is a basis to
incorporate fully defined wording within the four corners of the
text at the moment.
This has been the case with certain elements regarding Sensitive
Products, tariff quota creation, non-Sensitive Products with tariffs
higher than 100 per cent, tropical and diversification products,
preference erosion and the SSM.
While Members have at last been prepared to step (albeit
tentatively) outside their comfort zones, they have not been
prepared to get as far as a real convergence. As always, one cannot
invent consensus where it does not exist. Indeed it is utterly
counter-productive to do so because, lacking any real basis in the
negotiation, it simply provokes a counter-reaction that sends us
back to square one.
But it would have been selling short the progress made to simply
have nothing new on the table on these matters. So what has been
done in such cases is to provide certain working hypotheses which,
if the political will to conclude is genuinely there, could become a
platform to get us to closure. I have taken some liberties here as
it is, but, hopefully, not to the point of pure invention.
Some of those forms of words are being seen for the first time,
albeit that they have not emerged in a vacuum: they are there
because they reflect, hopefully, emerging elements of convergence.
But even in these areas there is an inevitable unevenness because
some things are, unavoidably, somewhat better developed than others.
On Sensitive Products, the text is, on the surface, more clear than
in July. That said, the fact remains that there appear to be
effectively only two developed Members among the importers that are
actually prepared to live with 4 per cent of Sensitive Products
despite a seeming view that “4 per cent” was what was a source of
quasi-consensus in July. I see no alternative, therefore, but to put
that in the text unambiguously. But the reality is that others are
not in agreement with that. There is no sign at this point of
agreement to bridge that on the table. The best I have been able to
do is to outline in a separate document some possibilities of how to
“fix” this (if any fix other than applying 4 per cent without
limitation will ever fly). But even these ideas are speculative to
some extent because no-one has a common view on what uniform
“payment” would work for going beyond 4 per cent.
On non-Sensitive Products above 100 per cent, battle-lines remain
drawn. The text is accordingly still square-bracketed, albeit with a
few minor changes. I do sense that, under the surface, progress is
being made but, nothing that is as yet textually in the frame. I
have also made a suggestion in the attached working paper, for what
it is worth, as another angle of approach.
Because, tariff quota creation is such a sensitive issue, the text
retains the two options. But consultations indicate that a strictly
limited and transparent way out could be found. Because, however,
transparency is demanded by one side but the other side says it
cannot be done, the matter remains moot. But with good will there is
at least an emerging structure for getting to closure.
On tropical and diversification products and preference erosion, the
text remains the same. I had wanted to record in a separate paper
the considerable progress that had been made in July. As of
yesterday I had drafted that on the basis that, if everything fell
into place — and bananas was key to that — there was a deal there
for the taking. And it would have been useful for everyone to see
how close we were to that. But I was advised yesterday that, on
bananas certain material changes had occurred which, in the view of
at least one set of Members, vitiated any assumptions abut what
might even be hypothetically possible. I cannot ignore such a
strongly held view so, yet again, all we get for the time being is
the 10 July text.
It is a pity, in my view, but I cannot intrude on a bilateral
negotiations of this intensity. All I would add is that the parties
have been working on their bilateral lists as well. Clearly
everything else is contingent on satisfaction being found here also.
But there are Members that are uncomfortable about not knowing what
would appear in importing Members’ lists based on the percentages
canvassed below. The parties to discussions have developed, I
believe, understandings on these matters among themselves to which
I, among others, am not privy. If this remains a difficulty among
Members I can only continue to urge those involved to consult in
good faith with those concerned as soon as possible with a view to
alleviating concerns about transparency.
On the SSM, we have made some progress. It is uneven, it is fragile,
it has never been consolidated into a single structure. All previous
informal efforts have failed. So, this is the first time this
particular structure has seen the light of day. It is not,
therefore, ready for inclusion in the text per se because it is
utterly untested. But hopefully it can at least help materially in
getting us to that. There appear to remain still subsequent issues
to deal with as yet unresolved.
Then there is cotton. Here we have, since July, at least
re-established a good dialogue and a sense of trust that had been
seriously eroded by events at the end of July. We have also got a
robust and common view on the numbers that need to be crunched to
get a final decision. That said the fact remains that, textually, I
regret that I can only report that neither I nor, as far as I can
tell, anyone else involved in the consultations are any wiser today
on what the deal will be than we were in July.
non-agriculture market access (NAMA) draft
From chairperson Luzius Wasescha’s
Please find attached the fourth revision
of the draft modalities for NAMA. After an intensive process of
consultations, the degree of convergence on many issues allows me to
present a text which is almost complete. There are some issues
where, based on the discussions held, I have put forward what I
believe are the landing zones (for example SVEs, preference
erosion). I had identified preference erosion as one of the more
difficult issues in the initial stage of my consultations, and would
like to further note that a solution for some Members claiming
inclusion in Annex 4 could not be found, and neither could
satisfaction be provided to certain Members currently included in
Annex 4. Therefore, the solution on this issue found after the July
Ministerial appears to me the only viable one and is the one
reflected in the text. Anyhow, everything is conditional in the
Nevertheless, two areas remain where further work is required:
(1) Sectorals (paragraphs 9 to 12): Even though the included text is
accepted as a basis for further work, we are far from a consensus
among Members. The main open questions in sectorals are:
An indication by some Members that
their ability to finalize NAMA modalities depends on a commitment
by those Members who took part in the negotiations on formula and
flexibilities in July to negotiate an agreed list of sectors and
to participate in the agreements that result from those
negotiations. In this context, the language referring to a single
undertaking in paragraph 9 meets resistance from the
How and when to define the
commitment of Members to participate in sectorals without altering
the non-mandatory character of these negotiations?
Annex 7: option 1 is the preferred
option of the proponents, and option 2 the preferred one of the
(2) Consultations with Argentina, South Africa and
Venezuela will have to be pursued next week. I would observe that the
discussions on South Africa are rather advanced.
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