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2005: WTOs ministermøte 2005:

Developing Countries agree to avoid signing “suicide round” in Hong Kong

Various developing country alliances in the WTO came together at the initiative of the G20 and The G90 to carve out a process of ensuring a common approach to the agricultural negotiations aimed at defining agreements and how to handle already existing disparities and inconsistencies between and amongst the groupings and to avoid making the negotiations a suicide round for themselves.
Av Rangarirai Machemedze and Helene Bank, SEATINI | Tirsdag 13. desember 2005
Linker oppdatert: Fredag 12. mai 2006

It was well appreciated that even within the groups themselves like the G20, there were some different interests from the members but that did no constitute a matter of contradictions.

The meeting, which was chaired by the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, put forward ideas and opinions on the process and direction of negotiations. The panel consisted of ’s Minister Kamal Nath representing the G20, ’s Minister Dipak Patel on behalf of the LDCs, Mauritius Trade Minister Dulou on behalf of the , Egyptian Minister Rashid on behalf of the African group the Indonesian Trade Minister  on behalf of the G33 and on behalf of Small Island States.

Minister Amorim appreciated and highlighted the benefits that the developing country groupings would have if they were to negotiate as a single, united group. He presented the G20 positions and concerns emphasising that there were large developmental challenges in the G20. He stated ’s commitment to south-south trade offering its market to the products of other developing countries but emphasised that the context and state of development of each country must be taken into consideration. He expressed support to duty and quota free market access to the LDCs but expressed a concern that such means should not result in countries becoming new LDCs because of that.

On the status of the ministerial text, Minister Patel of expressed the concern that annex F on Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) was the result of 20 years of hard work, and still it was not satisfying the needs of developing countries.

On cotton, he said, the C4 – or C5 approach that now seem to gain ground in the draft ministerial text was not going to work as African countries needed to treat cotton in a holistic manner. He appreciated that won its case against the on the cotton subsidies but expressed concern on the fact that placing cotton as part of agriculture was bulldozed in July 2004, and now it is argued that we cannot move faster on cotton when the whole agriculture negotiations are stalled.

On services, Min Patel stated, that the LDCs, the G90 and Africa Union in their ministerial declarations opposed ideas to change the rules under way in the negotiations.

On “Aid for Trade”  Min. Patel recognized that there was a lot of box-shifting taking place. He was firm in his commitment regarding aid programmes that there would be no more acceptances of post-dated checks with insufficient funding. “The “Aid for Trade” would not be accepted if it was based on World Bank conditionalities. The “Aid for Trade” guidelines should be a result of negotiated outcomes so that there was an ownership to the final programme. The G20 is about agriculture, but also about development. What currently happens is that Lamy and Mandelson are carving out development without us present,” he lamented.

Minister Duluh from focussed on the proposal by the G33 on Special Products and Sspecial Safeguard Mechanism, tariff formula and policy space. With a vulnerable state, job preservation, let alone job creation is becoming increasingly difficult.

On the issue of preferences issue, it has become clearer that no size fits all, but preference dependent countries do feel remarkable insensitivities towards what is said.

Progress in current negotiations would be measured against that there will be no victims and marginalized. He urged those who will be called in closed meetings to consult with those outside so that they can deliver on text and not just pre present something that is carved out for them.

Minister Nath from identified this moment as a true historic moment of purposeful engagement by LDCs, Small Vulnerable economies, G90;G20 and G33. To the , he stated that they should not seek, but take the G20 support for granted. On the LDC proposals, it was needed to ensure that it is not becoming a suicide round. Commodities should not be separated so that no one will get anything. We have had enough of good intensions, he stated, in framing such elementary things that are not negotiable.

The minister of also stated that for small economies this was a historic moment and the importance to continue to be united. But this needed also continued hard work.

“Reform in developed countries was needed as well as a full acceptance of SP and SSM. For the developing countries here together, we are representative, we are constructive to put on SP and SSM as a stand alone issue, not a substitute for S&D.  There will be no modalities here in with out modalities on the two,” she stated.

Minister Rashid from noted the fact that being united and together makes strong, but that it was also needed to be aware of differences and take them into account and deal with them. There can be differences but still there was a need to remain united, he said.  

“If we do not manage, others will do it for us. The and Arusha AU ministerial declarations were the basis for group positions”

The minister expressed much concern to the approach of carving out a development package on behalf of developing countries.

The ambassador spoke on behalf of his Minister Ms. Miller for small and vulnerable economies. He was encouraged by the quality of the coordination of the groups.

“We are committed to trade liberalization, willing to make a contribution and keen at this commitment taking into account our development needs,” he stated. Small economies export profile is so that it has a limited range of products and limited number of markets. We have fought for member states to accept that our vulnerabilities are real, he said.

On Agriculture and NAMA, small economies could not take any large tariff cuts and they are against capping. They subscribed to SP and SSM based on both volume and price triggers. They did not accept any reduction in de-minimis support for developing countries. They were not unhappy with the text in the ministerial text draft, but encouraged to strengthen its developmental content.

In the discussion it was mentioned that before celebrating there was a need to appreciate what had said about dealing with differences. It was therefore put on the table about ’s view on preferences. If was uncomfortable about other countries crying for the erosion of preferences then there was need for the countries to have a look at the situation as some economies are entirely dependent on preferences for their specific commodities. Important was also to get clarity on “bound” duty and quota free Market access in big countries.

Other issues that need to be resolved were the issue regarding cotton, banana, also rules that accepted and increased protection of those having the most, simplification of  Rules of Origin and a common attitude to “Aid for Trade, South –South cooperation. 

On South –south co-operation, offered to give the weaker  countries technical assistance in the form of money and experience particularly in the agriculture sector.

On Aid for trade there as seen a need to think about how it was dealt with. And it was recognized that all developing countries more or less live under the heritage of the past, there was a need to decide on more that just to unite.

The countries agreed to meet after two days to agree on some language, and that senior officials of the coordinating countries should work on some common language.

Redaktør: Arnfinn Nygaard
Sist oppdatert: 12. januar
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