TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct18/14)
22 October 2018
Third World Network

South call for expeditious conclusion of DDA talks, oppose new issues
Published in SUNS #8776 dated 18 October 2018

Geneva, 17 Oct (D. Ravi Kanth) - A large majority of developing and poorest countries on Tuesday demanded the expeditious conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) trade negotiations while opposing the aggressive attempts to pursue plurilateral negotiations in new issues without multilateral approval, several trade envoys told SUNS.

At the informal Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting, South Africa, on behalf of the African Group, issued a strong call "to continue to pursue outcomes on the core developmental issues in line with the Doha mandate in respect to agricultural domestic support, public stockholding and fishery subsidies."

The African Group said it is encouraged by engagement for making improvements on cotton subsidies and market access.

The African Group demanded an outcome on the S&DT (special and differential treatment) proposals. "As such, we do not see a likelihood of consensus on proposals calling for graduation, case-by-case application of S&DT or further differentiation," South Africa said.

India said "some of the ideas on reforms being floated, in their breadth, novelty and potential impact are akin almost, to launching a new Round, even when we still need to address some of the Doha issues, build on the work done and harvest some outcomes."

India argued "we have been proponents of reforms of the Uruguay Round agreements like the Agreement on Agriculture and believe, that though reforms may be necessary, and even help enhance the effectiveness of the organization, the need at this time, is to follow approaches that build and enhance trust among Members, and provide a healing touch."

India warned that attempts to run away from the core developmental issues by pursuing new issues or reforms will have the following consequences:

* may increase divergences or are divisive, or

* freeze the inequities against the developing countries and LDC interests, or

* perpetuate the monopoly of platforms and thwart competition, or

* go against the development focus which is part of the basic structure of the organization, or

* seek to dump principles of non-discrimination and consensus which have ma de the WTO inclusive, or

* those that do not address the asymmetry of existing agreements, or

* those that would compromise the ability of developing countries and LDCs to fight hunger and poverty which are still huge challenges for them.

Malawi, on behalf of the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) group, said "any proposals for WTO reform must clearly set out reasons why this is considered necessary; how the reform takes into account the interests of the whole WTO membership, especially developing countries, including the ACP Group; and how the reform would contribute towards the discharge of the DDA and other Ministerial mandates."

The ACP said "inclusivity, transparency, S&DT for developing countries and LDCs are cardinal principles enshrined in the institution that must be fully adhered to."

A large majority of developing countries - India, South Africa, Indonesia on behalf of the G33 group, and the ACP group - called for addressing the unresolved issues of the Doha work program.

Many developing countries expressed sharp concern over attempts to undermine the consensus principle and "differentiation" for availing special and differential flexibilities.

Many members said that they are ready to accelerate the current discussion for crafting disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Members, however, remained divided on the plurilateral discussions on electronic commerce, micro, small, and medium enterprises, domestic regulation for services and trade and gender.