Lamy Warns “Rapid Acceleration” Required to Ensure Results at Bali WTO Ministerial

WTO members are working to extract an abridged package of deliverables from the Doha Round, which was formally declared at an impasse in December 2011, which would include an agreement on trade facilitation, plus components on agriculture and deliverables for LDCs.

“Assuming my diagnosis is right, the stark reality is that the current pace of work is largely insufficient to deliver successfully in Bali,” Lamy said. Members must adopt a “change in mind-set” if they are to see the deliverables they desire and complete the negotiations in time.

Many have reportedly stressed the need to bring in senior officials – possibly ministers – to provide the political push to move the Bali process forward.

Trade facilitation

An agreement on trade facilitation, dealing with easing customs procedures and cutting time at border crossings, would be the centrepiece. Lamy urged members to coordinate between all relevant domestic ministries – not just those that deal with trade – as well as ensuring there will be enough capacity-building available to allow poorer members to take on new disciplines in this area.

Agriculture

A proposal from the G-20 coalition of developing countries deals with how countries manage tariff rates quotas – used to charge higher tariffs on goods being imported after an initial quota has been filled. A more controversial proposal, by the G-33 coalition with India as the main proponent, wants to ease farm subsidy rules on food stockholding purchases, which could create dangerous loopholes in WTO rules.

“Frankly, the very essence of this proposal is confusing and concerning,” the US Ambassador to the WTO said. “It is ironic that this proposal comes under a title of ‘food security’. Even if it did contribute to food security for the few countries that can afford to support such a system – and this is debatable – it will certainly create volatility and insecurity for the vast majority of others.”

Developing country issues

The prospects for issues that affect the poorest WTO members are still unclear, with members still awaiting proposals from the LDC Group on topics such as duty-free quota-free market access, rules of origin, and cotton. Members are also examining a possible extension to LDCs’ waiver for implementing the WTO’s intellectual property agreement – the current waiver expires this July.

Failure at Bali could spell doom for Doha

Various members have stressed that a failure to conclude a package in time for Bali will have broader implications for the overall Doha negotiations, and the credibility of the multilateral trading system as a whole.

“If Bali fails, it is hard to imagine how Doha can succeed,” Punke said on the US’ behalf. “It defies logic to believe that, if we fail to deliver on the easier issues, that the WTO is capable of delivering on the more difficult issues – issues at impasse now for more than a decade.”

“No one in this room could bear the consequences of a failure at Bali,” the Chinese Ambassador concurred. “That is not only the defeat of Doha, but also the loss of the multilateral trading system.”

“Although the odds are not bright, they are still good enough to warrant a major effort,” said Lamy. “But to succeed, you need to urgently change course, be more flexible in your negotiating attitude, accelerate your substantive work, and refrain from throwing bricks at each other.”

Read the original article from Bridges Weekly in full here

summary

WTO members are working to extract an abridged package of deliverables from the Doha Round, which was formally declared at an impasse in December 2011, which would include an agreement on trade facilitation, plus components on agriculture and deliverables for LDCs. “Assuming my diagnosis is right, the stark reality is that the current pace of work is largely insufficient to deliver successfully in Bali,” Lamy said. Members must adopt a “change in mind-set” if they are to see the deliverables they desire and complete the negotiations in time.

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By | 2017-10-08T11:56:23+00:00 April 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Lamy Warns “Rapid Acceleration” Required to Ensure Results at Bali WTO Ministerial

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