ICs want "payment" anew for unresolved Doha agri issues
Published in SUNS #8386 dated 24 January 2017
Geneva, 23 Jan (D. Ravi Kanth) - Major developed and some developing countries
appear to be pushing for "payment" for addressing the unresolved Doha
issues in agriculture in the run-up to the World Trade Organization's eleventh
ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires later this year, sources told SUNS on
As a price for addressing these unresolved Doha agricultural issues, the major
developed countries, the developing countries and the least developed are to
agree to negotiate new issues: disciplines for micro, small, and medium
enterprises (MSMEs) and electronic commerce.
[Developing countries have already "paid" at least twice a price for
bringing agricultural trade, and ending heavy subsidisation and protection in
developed countries under trade disciplines. They paid a price at Marrakesh (in
concluding the Uruguay Round) in agreeing to undertake obligations and
commitments on TRIPS and Services trade in return for commitment by the
developed countries to undertake a long-term program of reforms to end
subsidies and distortions on their agricultural trade and markets. They again
paid a price for continuing with the agricultural trade reform programs at Doha
in the Single Undertaking, and in agreeing to several concessions to the
developed countries at Bali and Nairobi, including the Trade Facilitation
An early indication of the game plan being pursued by the major developed
countries and their allies in the developing world came at the informal
ministerial meeting in Davos on Friday (January 20) on the margins of the
annual World Economic Forum meeting.
Trade ministers from China, India, South Africa, Indonesia which represents the
G-33 farm coalition, the Philippines, Morocco which is the coordinator for the
African Group, Benin which coordinates the least- developed countries, and
Nigeria among others demanded outcomes on the permanent solution for public
stockholding programs for food security and the special safeguard mechanism
(SSM) at the WTO's eleventh ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, said
participants familiar with the meeting.
The developing and least-developed country trade ministers along with
Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada made a strong case for
addressing the trade-distorting domestic support.
Without acknowledging the demands made by many developing countries on public
stockholding programs for food security and SSM, trade ministers of the
European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea,
Singapore, and Hong Kong among others said they want to see an outcome on new
issues - disciplines for MSMEs and outcomes in e-commerce - at the WTO's
eleventh ministerial meeting, participants said.
After the meeting, one participant from a developed country told SUNS that for
any movement on Doha issues in agriculture, particularly public stockholding
(PSH) and SSM, there has to be reciprocal commitment to address new issues,
implying that they would need a payment to address issues in agriculture.
The Davos ministerial meeting was convened to address two issues - the state of
the global trading system and the threat posed by an enveloping anti-trade and
protectionist sentiment, and what needs to be done in the run-up to the
eleventh ministerial meeting.
During the three-hour meeting, trade ministers did not enter into any
They merely reiterated their priorities in the face of the worsening anti-trade
and protectionist sentiment as well as the "America first" stance of
the US led by President Donald Trump.
Despite the new administration in the United States and a raging fire storm
against globalization, trade ministers and officials from over two dozen
countries reaffirmed their commitment to accelerate negotiations in agriculture
domestic support, fishery subsidies, domestic regulation in services,
non-tariff barriers, new issues such as disciplines for e-commerce and small
and medium enterprises, and trade facilitation in services.
Trade ministers from Argentina, Australia, Benin which coordinates the
least-developed countries, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, European
Union, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco
which represented African countries, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan,
the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and Thailand vowed not to
give up negotiations because of the new administration in Washington, said
several participants familiar with the meeting.
The US was represented by Charge d'affaires Christopher Wilson who did not
speak during the meeting. Mexico and Turkey were also represented by their
senior trade and economy officials.
The WTO's director-general Roberto Azevedo, who is the sole candidate to head
the organization for the next four years, merely spoke about supporting the
system and the conclusions arrived at the last informal ministerial meeting in
Oslo last year, said a participant from a developing country.
Without directly referring to the new administration in the US led by Donald
Trump, trade ministers discussed the enveloping threat posed by protectionist
and anti-trade sentiment to the dispute settlement system and the challenges
posed to the Appellate Body if countries refuse to abide by its rulings, the
Many ministers emphasized about "preserving" the multilateral trading
system and what is being negotiated at the WTO.
"Ministers highlighted the key role of the rules-based multilateral
trading system in ensuring a stable and predictable framework for world trade
... they stressed the importance of safeguarding the integrity and the benefits
of this system and of further strengthening the WTO," the Swiss trade
chief Schneider-Ammann said in the concluding remarks.
"Ministers noted that protectionism was not the right answer to anti-trade
sentiments and to concerns about technological change... Instead, trade should
be made more inclusive and its benefits spread more widely,"
Trade ministers of many developing countries - China, India, Indonesia, the
Philippines, South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Benin among others -
emphasized the importance of concluding the permanent solution for public
stockholding programs and special safeguard mechanism (SSM) at the Buenos Aires
meeting, said a developing country trade minister who asked not to be quoted.
"Everybody agreed there has to be an outcome on permanent solution for
public stockholding programs for food security but it has to be along with
other results in the agriculture," the minister said.
In sharp contrast, trade ministers from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina,
South Africa, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaysia, Canada, Brazil, the Philippines,
and Indonesia called for outcomes in domestic support.
India also emphasized the need for tackling the distortions caused by
trade-distorting domestic support.
On new issues - disciplines for SMEs and e-commerce - there was a broad divide
among the participants.
Many minsters - Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, the EU, Costa Rica, China, Japan,
Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Switzerland, and Norway among
others - called for an outcome on new issues, particularly e-commerce.
However, South Africa said new issues must await an outcome on agriculture
while India along with other developing countries in Africa, except Nigeria,
said work on e-commerce must proceed in accordance with the existing mandate of
"On a scale of one to ten, the support for e-commerce at this juncture is
5, while agriculture-related issues is between 8 to 9, fish subsidies is 9,
services domestic regulation is between 6 and seven, non-tariff barriers is
between 5 to six, and trade facilitation in services is between 4 and 5,"
said one participant who asked not to be quoted.