Mombasa Mini Ministerial And Development Issues

Original Publication Date: 
6 March, 2005
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Mombasa Mini Ministerial and Development Issues
Washington Trade Daily
Volume 14, Number 46
March 7, 2005
Trade Reports
International Group

Mombasa – Brazil, Argentina and India clashed sharply here on Friday with the European Union over a demand by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mendelson for the introduction of differentiation among developing countries to avail special and differential treatment flexibilities (see related report this issue).

On Friday, the EU trade commissioner said in the closed-door session that he does not feel "apologetic" about raising the differentiation issue at last week's mini-ministerial World Trade Organization meeting. He said some advanced developing countries must provide more liberal market access to smaller countries.

The EU commissioner fully endorsed a non-paper prepared by Doha Trade and Development chairman Faisal Ismail, saying it is the best basis to address additional flexibilities for some poor countries.

The EU commissioner told journalists that developing countries must accept an early harvest of 28 Special and Differential Treatment issues that were prepared at the 2003 Cancun ministerial meeting without any change – which allows longer phase-in periods for a number of Uruguay Round agreements. The current negotiations need to focus more on preferential access issues – especially for least-developed nations, Mr. Mandelson said in concluding remarks

‘Differential' Debate

By the end of the three-day meeting here, India, Brazil and Argentina expressed confidence that the "differential" issue has been laid to rest – at least for the duration of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim attacked the Mandelson proposal, arguing that advanced developing countries need not be preached to by the Northern industrial states about how they should conduct trade among developing countries. Developing countries are capable of removing barriers between themselves through generalized system of tariff preferences negotiations that were launched at the UNCTAD XI meeting in Sao Paulo last year.

Mr. Amorim also warned that EU attempts to introduce differentiation are a sure recipe for scuttling the Doha trade negotiations. Instead of addressing the developmental issues that are the core of the Doha agenda, the EU commissioner is trying to create new divisions among developing countries, he said.

India's trade minister Kamal Nath noted that there has been no progress on development issues in the DDA to date. He accused the EU commissioner of resorting to extraneous issues – rather than addressing development issues head-on.

Earlier, Zambian officials spoke of bureaucratic and other hurdles faced by least-developed countries in availing special and differential treatment flexibilities because of pressure exerted by the International Monetary Fund.