Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Dec18/08)
13 December 2018
Third World Network
DDA issues must be addressed before considering WTO reform
Published in SUNS #8815 dated 12 December 2018
Geneva, 11 Dec (D. Ravi Kanth) - A large majority of developing and
least-developed countries on Monday insisted that the outstanding
Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues must be addressed before considering
any new reforms at the World Trade Organization, trade envoys told
At an informal Doha Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting, South
Africa on behalf of the African Group, India, Malawi on behalf of
the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) Group, Uganda, and several
South American countries reminded the proponents of WTO reforms to
address first the issues set out in the Doha work program.
South Africa said, "Our [the African] Group will continue to
pursue outcomes on the core developmental issues in line with the
Doha mandate, notably in respect to agricultural domestic support,
cotton, public stockholding and fisheries subsidies."
It asked the chair for Doha agriculture negotiations Ambassador John
Deep Ford of Guyana to respect the "previous ministerial decisions
as well as to ensure that the pace and structure of the work next
year takes into account the challenges faced by smaller delegations".
The African Group, according to South Africa, will "continue
to seek an outcome on our joint G90 S&DT proposals."
South Africa said that its proposals for improvements in special and
differential treatment (S&DT) will receive favourable treatment.
The African Group expressed "frustration" over continued
opposition "to advancing on issues of longstanding interest to
South Africa warned that "as we consider the way forward, the
issues we raise are critical components of our work, and how they
are treated will have a bearing on other matters under consideration."
It urged "all WTO Members to implement all the Decisions in favour
of LDCs in order to help them integrate more fully and sustainably
into the multilateral trading system."
South Africa asked the developed countries to "desist from making
requests on African acceding countries that are incompatible with
their level of development and capacity, and that these countries
receive technical support before, during and after their accession."
India said several issues of the "Doha mandate" must be
addressed before approaching new issues. "Mandated issues in
agriculture like Public Stockholding for Food Security (PSH) for all
developing countries and LDCs [least-developed countries], fisheries
and services need to be taken forward with a sense of focus."
India inveighed against attempts by industrialized countries and their
allies to undermine multilateral issues such as the proposal on the
negative impact of the electronic commerce moratorium on Members'
policy space to protect domestic industry and the proposal to improve
the disciplines of the domestic regulation for facilitating movement
of short-term services providers in Mode 4 of the General Agreement
on Trade in Services.
On behalf of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) group, Malawi
reiterated that the "Doha Development Agenda issues continue
to remain a priority for the ACP group despite some signs of the issues
being neglected and sometimes even forgotten in the organisation."
The ACP group expressed sharp concern over the lack of resolution
to its proposals to improve the S&DT flexibilities.
"Being the main demanders and beneficiaries, we have proposed
and recommended a way forward in the process which will prioritize
LDCs, and SVEs' interests in the process, then discuss flexibilities
as needed for other developing countries."
"In the near future, we expect to further engage with members
moving forward and therefore, call upon all members to remain open
in this engagement process if we are to take any meaningful steps
in addressing the real imbalances in global trade which more particularly
affect the LDCs and SVEs," Malawi said.
"We have more than a decade of work resulting in principles emerging
in the differentiated flexibilities designed in the 2008 Chair's texts
for agriculture and NAMA," the ACP group maintained.
The ACP group demanded that members adhere to the old negotiating
framework on services as was set out in the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial
"On domestic regulation, the Group welcomes the renewed multilateral
discussions within the context of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation,
" it argued, emphasizing, "we reiterate that any discussions
on domestic regulation must prioritize issues of interest to developing
countries and LDCs and fully recognize our countries' right to regulate."
The ACP group maintained that, "in agriculture, we recognize
the active engagement pursued in the CoA-SS through presentation of
analytical papers and presentations under the different pillars."
"In general, the ACP group maintains that there is need for members
to take steps to eliminate trade-distorting domestic supports that
maintain gross imbalances including AMS entitlements, cotton, and
take decisions on food security and other areas of most importance
to weaker developing countries and LDCs which deserve priority attention,"
the ACP group argued.
In their interventions, the developing countries did not comment on
the plurilateral Joint Statement Initiatives in electronic commerce,
domestic regulation for services, investment facilitation, disciplines
for micro, small and medium enterprises, and trade and gender.
In conclusion, the tension between the unfinished Doha-mandated issues
and the new plurilateral initiatives was evident at the informal TNC