THIS NEWS ITEM IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN
THE WTO. WHILE EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE
ACCURATE, IT DOES NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS’ POSITIONS.
remarks by Chair
remarks by Chair
Press Conference: Mr. Keith Rockwell, WTO Spokesman
from Pascal Lamy’s statement
> 25 July
> 26 July
In what has become his daily
report to the informal Trade Negotiations Committee, Mr Lamy said
the previous day’s “Green
Room” meeting had gone through the draft agriculture and
non-agricultural market access
He described the consultations as constructive with a strong commitment
from delegations to engage directly and in good faith. “However, I must
emphasize that the progress has been modest,” he said.
Because the progress has been uneven, Mr Lamy said smaller groups of
delegations would discuss a series of agriculture and industrial
products topics, the participants varying according to the subject, and
involving three key ambassadors: agriculture negotiations chairperson
Crawford Falconer, non-agricultural market access talks chairperson Don
Stephenson and General Council chairperson Bruce Gosper. He described
these arrangements as “variable geometry”.
In addition, Mr Lamy said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
had agreed to coordinate discussion on three intellectual property
issues: the multilateral register for wines’ and spirits’ geographical
indications, extending higher level geographical indications protection
beyond wines and spirits, and proposals to require patent applicants to
disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge —
formally the relationship between the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and the UN Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD).
As a result of this, the services “signalling
conference” originally scheduled for Thursday 24 July, will now take
place the following day.
Asked in a press conference later whether the new schedule will also
delay the circulation of revised agriculture and industrial products
texts, WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell replied: “I would not advise you
to hold your breath for those texts on Friday.”
Transparency and inclusiveness
In earlier meetings, several members urged Mr Lamy to ensure that
information about the consultations is shared fully and that all members
can have a say in the outcome.
Mr Lamy repeated his assurance that the Green Room consultations involve
representatives of the full spectrum of members’ views and interests
because they include coordinators of regional groups and other
“Let me stress that in this process I am counting heavily on
coordinators of the various WTO groupings to assist in maintaining
transparency and inclusiveness,” he said. “I know that group
coordinators face a big burden, but I do ask that you continue to ensure
the flow of information and maintain consultations with your
constituencies from small consultations so that they are kept informed
and involved, as well as to convey your groups’ positions to other
members, the negotiating group chairs, and myself.”
In the end, decisions can only be taken by the membership as a whole, he
(See also unofficial guide to the 10 July 2008 draft, available
Mr Lamy said the focus in the discussions on agriculture was on: overall
trade-distorting domestic support for developed countries, including the
new US offer to lower its proposed limit to $15bn, which was seen as a
positive step; cotton; top-tier tariff cuts for developed countries;
sensitive products, particularly how many products, the size of tariff
quotas opened in return for these products having smaller than normal
tariff cuts, and whether products currently without tariff quotas can be
designated as sensitive (sometimes misleadingly termed “no new tariff
quotas”); whether any of developing countries’ special products can
completely escape tariff cuts; and whether temporary increases in
developing country tariffs — the “special safeguard mechanism” to deal
with import surges or price slumps — can raise tariffs above the legally
bound maximums in place before the Doha Round.
Non-agricultural market access (NAMA)
(See also “the
July 2008 NAMA modalities text made simple”)
Mr Lamy said members had mostly restated their well-known positions on
the formula and flexibilities but they were willing to engage seriously.
They differed markedly on the anti-concentration clause (a proposal to
prevent an entire sector from being shielded from cuts), he reported.
And members differed in how much emphasis they gave to “sectorals” (free
or freer trade in a sector), all recognizing that these would be
Mr Lamy said he recognized that other issues in both subjects are also
important. But they are being discussed with the chairs of the
negotiating groups and therefore he did not think it would be efficient
to focus on them now.
On agriculture, the list includes: preferences, tropical products,
in-quota rates, tariff simplification, tariff capping, and export
competition. On industrial products it also includes preferences. And
more broadly issues concerning small and vulnerable economies, and
duty-free quota-free market access for exports from least-developed
Today’s speakers were: India, the informal group of developing countries
(Sri Lanka speaking), Nicaragua, Paraguay, Switzerland, Lesotho, the
Texts of some of the statements — those supplied by delegations for
publication on the website — can be found
Climb every mountain
On the first day, Director-General Pascal Lamy compared the ministers’
task to climbing Mont Blanc (which is in France and Italy).
Delegations picked up the theme in their statements and the peaks
challenging WTO negotiators ranged from Mount Fuji in Japan to
Huascarán in Peru. En route was Mt Everest, with New Zealand pointing
out that the world’s highest peak was conquered by two countries
sitting next to each other in the Trade Negotiations Committee: New
Zealand and Nepal. On 23 July, Lesotho observed that Lesotho is the
Switzerland of Africa and therefore Switzerland must be the Lesotho of
Europe. Mr Lamy suggested Switzerland might relish the opportunity to
claim the use of special products, the special safeguard mechanism and
other flexibilities to be given to developing and least-developed
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