DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA back to top “The moment of truth is fast approaching” — Lamy
Director-General Pascal Lamy, in his
introductory statement to the Trade Negotiations Committee on 28
March, reminded members of the end-April deadline for establishing
modalities in agriculture and industrial products, and stressed that
“the moment of truth is therefore fast approaching — we do not have
time to waste”.
He said that since the last TNC meeting on 7 February (see
WTO Focus No. 68), intensive activity had
been taking place “across the whole spectrum” of the Doha Round,
complemented by a number of initiatives among some members. This
activity “has allowed us to move from generalities, to talking numbers
and texts, which is exactly what we need right now”.
The Director-General warned that “we would be making a huge collective
mistake if we thought we could postpone the establishment of
modalities by the end of April”. He urged delegations to intensify
work between now and the start of agriculture and non-agriculture
market access (NAMA) meetings on 17 April.
Summing up the mood, he said there was “a strong sense of urgency as
get closer to the end of April and a need to change gear on all areas
of the negotiation, starting with the triangle of domestic support and
market access in agriculture and in industrial products”.
Mixed reception for ‘Cotton Four’ domestic support proposal
A number of members supported the latest proposal by four African
countries on domestic support for cotton, when the sub-committee held
its first in-depth discussion on the paper on 27 March, but one — the
United States — said it would not put the talks on the path to
The Cotton-Four (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) clarified their
proposal for cutting and eventually eliminating trade-distorting
domestic support in a new paper discussed in the Cotton Sub-Committee
on 2 March. The new details include a formula designed to ensure that
the cuts on cotton are deeper than those for agriculture as a whole,
Chad, one of the four, told the committee.
The formula is designed so that the cut in Amber Box (or AMS)
subsidies for cotton are deeper than those for agriculture as a whole,
an objective agreed at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in
December 2005 .
TRADE POLICY REVIEWback to top United States: Openness fuels solid economic growth
Trade Policy Review Body, on 22 and 24 March, conducted its eighth
review of the trade policies and practices of the United States. The
review was chaired by Ambassador Claudia Uribe (Colombia) with
Ambassador. Amina Chawahir Mohamed (Kenya) acting as discussant.
The United States has undergone solid economic growth since its last
Trade Policy Review in 2004, aided by the openness and transparency of
its trade regime which has supported the continuous drive for change and
efficiency characteristic of the US economy as a whole, according to a
WTO Secretariat report on the trade policies and practices of the United
During the period under review, the United States, the world’s largest
import market and a key engine of global growth, continued making
incremental changes to its trade regime, including liberalization on an
MFN and preferential bases. The report notes, nonetheless, that market
access barriers and other distorting measures, notably subsidies,
persist in a few but important areas, and that addressing these
distortions would benefit U.S. consumers and taxpayers and help
strengthen the global economy.
The report also says that it is important to pre-empt possible
protectionist sentiment, which may require efforts in the United States,
including through a reduction in public sector absorption, and in the
rest of the world, through increased spending.
ACCESSIONS back to top Viet Nam’s talks now ‘well into final stages’
With Viet Nam announcing it has almost completed the two remaining
bilateral deals, and following a rush of new laws and multilateral
work, the membership negotiation has now pushed “well forward into its
final stages”, the chair of the working party said on 27 March. The
working party of over 40 WTO members (counting the EU as one) will now
accelerate its discussions with Viet Nam with the aim of producing a
revised report in the next few weeks or months. No date has been set
for the next meeting, but chairperson Eirik Glenne (Norway’s
ambassador) has asked for suggestions in writing in two weeks, which
he described as half the usual time. “This is a reflection of the fact
that this accession is now entering an intensive phase,” he said.
Chair stresses need to accelerate Russia talks
At the close of the meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of
the Russian Federation on 24 March, the chairman, Ambassador Stefan
Jóhannesson (Iceland) stressed the need to accelerate work to ensure
substantial movement on the large range of pending issues. He also
pointed to the need for more plurilateral meetings as members move
towards more complicated sections of the draft report of the Working
Party. Among the subjects discussed during the meeting were those
related to the protection of intellectual property rights, and
sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Russia's chief negotiator Maxim
Medvedkov reported that his country had completed bilateral
negotiations with 17 members since the last meeting held in October
last year, and that it is close to completion with Argentina,
Australia, Colombia and Costa Rica. It is still holding consultations
with the United States and Moldova.
DISPUTE SETTLEMENTback to top DSB adopts rulings in dispute concerning Mexico's tax on soft drinks
The Dispute Settlement Body adopted on 24 March the Panel and Appellate
Body reports regarding “Mexico — Tax Measures on Soft Drinks and Other
Beverages” (DS308), which was brought by the United States.
On 17 March, it established panels to examine, respectively, the Mexican
anti-dumping duties on steel pipes and tubes brought by Guatemala
(DS331); the Turkish measures affecting the US importation of rice
(DS334); and the US sunset reviews of anti-dumping measures on oil
country tubular goods from Argentina (DS268).
On 14 March, the DSB adopted the Appellate Body and the Panel reports on
the European Communities’ second recourse to Article 21.5 in the case
“United States: Tax treatment for ‘Foreign Sales Corporations’” (DS108).
On 6 March, the Appellate Body issued its report regarding Mexico's
appeal in the case “Mexico — Tax Measures on Soft Drinks and Other
Beverages” (DS308), which was brought by the United States to the WTO.
DEVELOPMENT back to top CTD Special Session elects new chair
The Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development, on 6
March, elected Amb. Burhan Gafoor of Singapore as the new chairperson.
The least-developed countries (LDCs) raised the issue of the duty-free
quota-free market access decision. They said that the modalities of
this decision should be worked out in the Special Session of the CTD,
and that only the review of the implementation of the decision be
taken up in the Regular Session of the CTD. However, one member said
that at this stage it could not agree to the issue being dealt with in
the Special Session and stated the need to further consult on the
matter. It felt that the matter should be considered in the Regular
Session of the CTD as mandated in the Hong Kong Declaration or even in
the Sub-Committee on LDCs.
Members also took up the remaining Category I Agreement-specific
The Chairman intends to hold informal consultations on the
Agreement-specific proposals before the next formal meeting, which is
scheduled for 7 April 2006.
CTD adopts work programme
The Committee on Trade and Development, on 3 March, agreed to adopt
draft work programme for 2006 with one change, made on the basis
of a statement by Zambia, the Coordinator of the LDC Group. It was
agreed that an item on the review of steps taken to provide duty-free
and quota-free market access to LDCs would be included in the agenda
for all remaining meetings in 2006.
The European Communities and the United States introduced the written
questions they had submitted on the Enabling Clause notifications
concerning the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic
Cooperation between the Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) and China. Malaysia, on behalf of ASEAN and China, indicated
that responses to the questions would be provided at the next CTD
meeting in May. Japan stated that it would also submit written
questions to ASEAN and China.
The Committee agreed to the Chairman's proposal to hold its next
comprehensive review of the developmental aspects of the negotiations
at its meeting of 6 July 2006. The Secretariat will revise its
document on the
developmental aspects of the negotiations for that meeting, in
particular to take into account any agreed modalities.
The Committee elected Mr. Faizel Ismail (South Africa) as its new
Chairperson for the meetings of the CTD in Regular and Dedicated
Sessions and re-appointed Ambassador Ian M. de Jong (Netherlands) as
Chairman of the Sub Committee on Least-Developed Countries.
Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom give CHF 1.9 million for
the Integrated Framework
Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have donated a total of
1.9 million Swiss Francs to establish the Integrated Framework
Programme Implementation Unit for least-developed countries. “This
contribution reinforces the commitment of support for the Integrated
Framework expressed by trade Ministers in Hong Kong,” said WTO
Director-General Pascal Lamy.
OTHER WTO ACTIVITIES
back to top
Lamy: “The WTO is open to dialogue”
Director-General Lamy, in a speech
at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva (HEI) on 14
March, said that the WTO is an organization in the archipelago of global
governance that is open to dialogue and sensitive to development
concerns and other international issues. He cited WTO's efforts in
helping poorer countries obtain cheaper generic versions of patented
medicines, and noted that the WTO Secretariat maintains working
relations with almost 200 international organizations.
video message to the
Convention on Biological Diversity on 28 March, he said that the
Convention and the WTO “stand side-by-side today in the canvass of rules
that the international community has been weaving to make the world a
more orderly place”. He added that “it is critical that they
Goods Council agrees on chairpersons of subsidiary bodies
Council for Trade in Goods, on 10 March, agreed on a slate of
chairpersons of its subsidiary bodies for this year. It elected by
acclamation Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah (Nigeria) as its new
NEW PAPERSback to top Liberalizing Financial Services Trade in Africa: Going Regional and
This new discussion paper analyses the possible gains from regional
and multilateral liberalization of financial services trade for
African countries taking into account the implications of such
liberalization for financial regulation and capital account
liberalization. It also describes existing efforts to integrate
financial markets within four African regions (WAEMU, CEMAC, SADC and
COMESA) and discusses the existing GATS commitments of the relevant
countries with respect to financial services. Although the regions
differ significantly, there is scope for further regional integration
in all of them. Significant scope also exists for further multilateral
liberalization of financial services, in particular with respect to
Non-Reciprocal Preference Erosion Arising From MFN Liberalization in
Agriculture: What Are the Risks?
This new working paper estimates the risk of preference erosion for
non-reciprocal preference recipients in the agricultural sector as a
consequence of MFN tariff cuts. It is based on a simulation of a
single tariff-cutting scenario. The measure of preference erosion risk
is the difference in preference margins enjoyed by individual
suppliers to the QUAD (Canada, EU, Japan, United States) markets
before and after a MFN tariff reduction, multiplied by the associated
trade flow. The paper does not attempt to determine how losses in
preference margins translate into trade outcomes, but it does
highlight which products and which non-reciprocal preference
beneficiaries are the most vulnerable to erosion effects in the major
developed country markets. Overall, the paper finds that the risk of
preference erosion is small, but some countries are strongly affected
in particular product lines (notably sugar and bananas).