WTO: 2008 NEWS ITEMS

  
 

The two documents are revisions of drafts previously circulated in July 2007, May and February 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.

They are agriculture negotiations chairperson Ambassador Crawford Falconer’s and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) chairperson Don Stephenson’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 and some other areas of the Doha Round can be negotiated in comparison with each other with the hope that agreement can be reached in the week of 21 July 2008, when a representative group of ministers will 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 Canadian 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.

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