Looking To US, EU For Restart

Original Publication Date: 
3 October, 2006

Geneva - Developing-country coalitions yesterday reiterated their view that the resumption of the suspended Doha Development Agenda negotiations can only recommence when industrialized countries spell out in specifics what they are prepared to do in trade-distorting domestic support and the market access pillars of the farm trade talks (see related report this issue).

Ahead of next Tuesday's long-scheduled World Trade Organization General Council meeting the coordinators of the key developing-country coalitions conducted a "brainstorming" session with Indian trade minister Kamal Nath to evaluate the current situation and determine what needs to be done to resume the suspended talks.

World Trade Organization Chief Pascal Lamy will offer his assessment of the talks to the General Council meeting. There are some indications that he may suggest a "skeletal" roadmap on how to reach the negotiating modalities in agriculture and nonagricultural market access along with services by the end of next March, sources said.

LDC Groups

In the meeting with minister Nath, the coordinators of the Group-of-20, the Group-of-33, the Africa Group, the Africa/Caribbean/Pacific Group and the Group-of-90 least developed countries agreed to form a "common front" to demand that resumption of the talks begin only after the United States, the European Union and other industrialized countries spell out their latest positions on the difficult issues of domestic supports and market access in the farm negotiations. Negotiations ceased last July due to the intransigence of the industrialized countries - particularly the United States on trade-distorting domestic support pillar.

The coalitions flatly rejected charges that the onus to resume the negotiations is on developing countries at this juncture. They are ready to show flexibility provided the "big" issues - including the level and magnitude of cuts in domestic supports and the "appropriate" treatment of "sensitive products" are decided once and for all.

The developing-country representatives cautioned against resuming technical work only on "special products" and the "special safeguard mechanism" without first having clarity on what industrialized countries are willing to commit.

Trade ministers for the major agricultural exporting countries meeting in Cairns, Australia, last month backed resumption of technical work, beginning with "special products," the "special safeguard mechanism" for developing countries and "sensitive products" along with issues relating to trade-distorting domestic supports.