THE ISSUES EXPLAINED:
Non-agricultural market access
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July draft text
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THIS BRIEFING NOTE IS DESIGNED TO HELP JOURNALISTS AND THE PUBLIC
UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOHA AGENDA NEGOTIATIONS. WHILE
EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE ACCURATE, IT DOES
NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS' POSITIONS.
“All delegations are engaged and we’re making worthwhile progress in all
areas,” General Council chairperson Shotaro Oshima told heads of delegations
at the latest meeting called to keep negotiators informed about the various
consultations taking place.
But above all, a revised text for the July package awaits the section on
agriculture, with the subject’s “facilitator”, Ambassador Tim Groser of New
Zealand, hoping to produce a new draft later in the day, members were told.
Many delegations said they were encouraged by the progress and were willing
to wait another half day for a revised text if that could lead to agreement.
But several warned that enough time should be left for those who are not
directly participating to be able to have a say, and for them to seek
reactions from their capitals.
The meeting lasted almost two hours.
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Ambassador Oshima reported that negotiators had
worked intensively on individual sections of the text — agriculture,
non-agricultural market access, trade facilitation and development issues.
He and WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi were working intensively
with the chairs of the different subjects (the “facilitators”) to produce a
new text for members to consider as soon as possible, Ambassador Oshima
said. They had asked the facilitators to ensure that the process is
transparent and includes all interested delegations, the General Council
Given the short time left before the deadline (end of Friday 30 July), the
next draft will be the final major revision, he went on.
He said another heads-of-delegations meeting will be held shortly after the
new text is circulated.
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Because Ambassador Groser, who is the agriculture
facilitator, continued to be involved in consultations, the General Council
chairperson reported on his behalf.
He said intensive negotiations continued among a group of major parties in
the talks with “very visible” progress. Ambassador Groser felt that
agreement within this group was a prior condition for agreement among the
whole membership, the General Council chairperson went on, and when that is
achieved, Ambassador Groser will hold intensive consultations with other
delegations before submitting a revised draft to Ambassador Oshima and Dr
Several countries not participating in the small-group consultation warned
that their concerns would have to be included, one speaker adding that 119
members are not taking part.
Non-agricultural market access (NAMA)
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The facilitator, Ambassador Stefán Jóhannesson of
Iceland, described consultations over the previous few days, which had
focused on a “vehicle” (such as a covering letter or note, or introductory
paragraphs within the draft decision) to deal with various members’ concerns
about the draft annex on this subject.
A first attempt was “road-tested” over the weekend in meetings with 60–70
delegations, Ambassador Jóhannesson said. Critics said it was too ambiguous,
too long, or generally did not help to make them feel more comfortable with
the annex. A new, shorter version (a “Smart vehicle”) was drafted. Members
continued to discuss this intensively and constructively among themselves
with a wish to narrow their gaps even though no agreement had been reached
yet, he reported.
In the discussion afterwards, some delegations continued to object to the
use of the unaltered annex even though it had never been agreed, but they
said they would continue to strive for agreement. (Ambassador Jóhannesson
had previously explained that he had submitted the annex in that form
because members had not been able to produce any alternative.)
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“We’re within striking distance,” reported the
facilitator, WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa, cautioning that this
did not guarantee success.
Over the past several days the consultations on “modalities” for launching
negotiations have been constructive and representatives of all three groups
submitting proposals have been central in the discussions.
“They’ve been very productive but not conclusive,” Mr Yerxa said.
(Immediately afterwards, he held a brief meeting open to all delegations. He
explained further that among the key issues still under discussion are: what
an agreement on trade facilitation would cover and what its objectives would
be; provisions on “special and differential treatment” for developing
countries; the role of other international organizations; and cooperation
between countries’ customs offices.
(Mr Yerxa also reported that members are closer to agreement on wording for
a key issue that concerns a number of developing countries — the cost. This
is the cost of implementing an agreement on trade facilitation, and it is
related in particular to technical cooperation both to help developing
countries participate in the negotiations and to help them put the agreement
In the heads of delegations meeting some developing countries asked what was
happening to the three other “Singapore” issues (investment, competition
policy and transparency in government procurement) that are now set to be
dropped from the Doha Agenda work programme. Ambassador Oshima said no
change has been made to the draft since no proposals have been received.
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The focus of the discussion has been the second
paragraph of the section on development issues in the
This deals with special treatment for developing countries and refers to
“preference dependent, commodity dependent countries”, “net food-importing
developing countries”, and “small, vulnerable developing economies”.
Although the paragraph also says this will not create a sub-category of
members, some developing countries have said that the draft could lead to
discrimination between developing countries and could hamper South-South
Facilitator Faizel Ismail of South Africa said that the whole paragraph had
been redrafted in response to numerous comments.
“We didn’t sleep much over the weekend. Some time on Sunday we were able to
make a breakthrough with a new paragraph,” he told delegates.
Although countries are not entirely happy with the draft, “at this stage I
have not heard any serious objections to this draft,” he said. Those who
feel that the new draft is not explicit enough in identifying categories of
developing countries or their concerns, can nevertheless view it as an
attempt to reach consensus among all members, he said.
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Several countries called for consultations on
implementation issues, some of them wanting to discuss geographical
indications. One country wanted the text to include a reference to commodity
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Consultations continue with a revised draft
expected late on 28 July or early 29 July. When it is circulated, another
meeting of heads of delegations will be held. The deadline remains the end
of 30 July.