Sharp polarisation at NAMA talks

Original Publication Date: 
8 June, 2015

8 June 2015
Third World Network

Published in SUNS 8033 dated 3 June 2015
 
Geneva, 2 Jun (D. Ravi Kanth) -- Members of the World Trade Organization remained sharply polarized Monday over the "five approaches" put forward by the Chair of the negotiating group for further talks to finalize outcomes in market access on industrial products in the post-Bali work programme for concluding the Doha Round.
 
The "five approaches" had been suggested by the Chair of the NAMA negotiating group, Ambassador Remigi Winzap of Switzerland, in a note he had circulated to members last month. The note however had not identified the authors of the different approaches.
 
At a heated and confrontational open-ended informal meeting, the divisions among developing and least- developed countries on the one side, and industrialized and some developing countries on the other came into the open on the NAMA chair's five approaches.
 
The chair Ambassador Remigi Winzap in his note had said the approaches were brought to his attention but never revealed who suggested them.
 
The five approaches include:
 
a. Increasing the coefficients of Rev. 3 for developing and developed Members;
 
b. Taking the average of line by line reductions according to Rev. 3, using the coefficients 8 for developed and 25 for developing Members (without flexibilities), as starting point for applying a cut of the overall tariff average;
 
c. Same as under (b), but starting from a reduced reference level (e. g. average of cuts multiplied by a number smaller than 1);
 
d. Taking the average of line by line reductions according to Rev. 3, using the coefficients 8 for developed and 25 for developing Members (without flexibilities), as starting point for applying an average cut of tariff lines;
 
e. Following an approach for the socalled formula applying Members similar to what Rev. 3 envisaged for other Members, such as SVEs (i. e. grouping Members according to levels of their existing bound tariff averages).
 
At what had been initially described as an informational/transparency meeting for all members, a large majority of developing countries asked the chair to indicate the sponsors of the approaches for the sake of transparency.
 
Several Members - Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Argentina, Barbados, India, and Uganda among others - asked the chair why the proponents are not coming upfront to defend their five approaches.
 
The developing countries asked the chair to clarify what would happen to less than full reciprocity, and special and differential treatment because of these approaches. The chair was asked to give a full picture on how these approaches were worked out, according to trade negotiators present at the meeting.
 
Argentina rejected the approaches and walked out of the meeting.
 
However, several industrialized and some developing countries - the European Union, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, Mexico, Hong Kong-China, and Korea among others - supported the five approaches.
 
The South Africa said it cannot accept the Swiss formula approach suggesting that it is ready to consider a simpler approach that is based on less-than-full reciprocity and special and differential treatment.
 
The US said the Swiss formula is difficult and it cannot take line by line cut based on the Swiss formula approach. The US suggested that it is ready to consider new approaches, including the five presented by the chair.
 
China said that it remains committed to the 2008 revised draft modalities along with the special and differential treatment flexibilities and less than full reciprocity. China said it is ready to consider new approaches. India sought to know about the change in the level of ambition.
 
Both China and India repeatedly asked the proponents of changes to identify themselves.
 
Canada's Ambassador Jonathan Fried caused a storm in the meeting when he charged some developing country members for repeating their positions and sitting without doing anything, said participants present at the meeting.
 
Several members asked the Canadian envoy to mend his ways in presenting his proposal.
 
South Africa, India, and Brazil among others protested at the Canadian remarks, trade envoys told SUNS. +