Lamy Sets Morning Deadline For Amendments To Declaration Text

Original Publication Date: 
15 December, 2005

HONG KONG -- World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy has set a 6 a.m. Dec. 17 deadline for members to offer proposals for amending a Hong Kong ministerial declaration to further define the goals for the Doha round.

In advance of this deadline, Lamy has scheduled a green room meeting at 7 p.m. tonight where he is expected to flesh out his ideas for settling the current fight over export subsidies which have emerged as the most contentious agricultural issue at the ministerial. A large group of WTO members urged the European Commission in a green room last night to agree to an end date for phasing out export subsidies at the ministerial, according to informed sources.

Lamy hopes to float a revised draft ministerial text for agriculture at midday on Dec. 17.

Of 28 members that attended the green room meeting that ended early this morning, only the European Union and Switzerland indicated they did not support the concept of agreeing to an end date on export subsidies in Hong Kong. At the conclusion of the meeting, Lamy noted the broad support for elimination of export subsidies, and that he would work on an agriculture text that would address the issue of the end date and other distortions of export competition.

Senior EU officials today insisted they would not agree to an end date in Hong Kong unless a ministerial text also included meaningful disciplines on food aid, export credits and state trading enterprises. One of these officials insisted the EU would also want a commitment from the U.S. on tighter disciplines on U.S. counter-cyclical farm payments.

However, two sources close to EU agriculture interests said they believed the EU could agree to an end date in Hong Kong if it was not expressed as a specific year but as a period of implementation. This would give the commission a number of years to phase out export subsidies after the Doha round is implemented.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim at last night's green room called for an agreed Hong Kong text to include a 2010 end date that would be conditional on future negotiations on parallelism. A senior EU official dismissed this suggestion, saying the EU was not so naïve to think its demands on parallelism would be met once it gave up its end date negotiating chip.