Lamy says WTO members aiming for “Realistic” Doha deliverables for 2013

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

One year after the Doha Round of trade talks was formally declared at an impasse, WTO members are beginning to show signs of re-engagement in the negotiations, according to WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. However, he warned delegates last Friday, members must be realistic and pragmatic in the months ahead to avoid jeopardising the small Doha deliverables package that they aim to clinch by next December’s ninth ministerial conference (MC9) in  Bali, Indonesia.

Progress in some areas, standstill in others
Topics such as trade facilitation, agriculture, special and different treatment (S&DT), least developed country (LDC) issues, and dispute settlement have advanced over the past twelve months, while others – such as the WTO’s negotiations on services – have barely moved at all, and are unlikely to move forward in the months ahead.

The possibility of a trade facilitation deal by end-2013 – an area of the talks that deals with easing customs procedures and other border restrictions – has gained increased prominence over the past months. Negotiators have been working toward finding internal balance within the subject-specific talks, as well as trying to find deliverables from other areas of the Round to go with it, in response to concerns from some members that a deal focused solely on trade facilitation would not be “self-balancing.”

In parallel, three proposals on agriculture – two from the G-20 coalition of developing countries, and one from the G-33 developing country group – have been debated as possible components to pair with a trade facilitation deal, earning a cautious welcome from fellow WTO members.

Steer clear of surprises, Lamy cautions
In preparing for MC9 in Bali next year, members should “go back to our well-known principle of ‘no surprises’,” the Director-General cautioned on Friday. “Any kind of Christmas-tree syndrome would have destabilising effects on the entire process, jeopardise the ministerial conference itself, and dent the credibility of the WTO.”

Efforts last year at building an LDC-focused “Doha-light” package in time for the December 2011 Geneva ministerial ultimately fell apart, due to members being unable to agree on which LDC – and non-LDC – issues to include in such a deal.

In order to achieve results in time for Bali, Lamy added, members should pursue “realistic” demands that account for other members’ so-called “red lines,” while avoiding unattainable goals or being confrontational in the negotiating process.

MC9: a Doha Round stepping stone
While a small package of Doha deliverables for next December now appears to be members’ current goal, many made clear at Friday’s meeting that the Bali event would not mark the end of the organisation’s efforts to conclude the entire Round.

“But we should also not wait for the last minute to engage,” the trade chief warned. “One more housekeeping ministerial conference in Bali would not suffice to keep the Doha House alive.”

“A successful MC9 appears today clearly as a necessary precondition for the conclusion, at a later stage, of the whole Round,” EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis commented. “Progress achieved is fragile; the road ahead is long and the time to MC9 is in fact very short.”

“Bali is not a deadline, but it has already emerged as a milestone. One way or the other, Bali will mark a moment when not only we but the world outside of Geneva take stock of our work and the health of the trading system,” US Ambassador Michael Punke added.

The full article can be found here

summary

One year after the Doha Round of trade talks was formally declared at an impasse, WTO members are beginning to show signs of re-engagement in the negotiations, according to WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. However, he warned delegates last Friday, members must be realistic and pragmatic in the months ahead to avoid jeopardising the small Doha deliverables package that they aim to clinch by next December’s ninth ministerial conference (MC9) in Bali, Indonesia.

 

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By | 2017-10-08T11:56:23+00:00 December 13th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Lamy says WTO members aiming for “Realistic” Doha deliverables for 2013

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