Questions For a NAMA Text

Original Publication Date: 
20 February, 2006
Geneva - The friends of ambition in Doha market access negotiation for industrial products led by the United States and the European Union on Monday submitted a set of questions to negotiations chair Don Stephenson suggesting how to finalize modalities by the end of April, WTD has learned (WTD, 2/20/06).

The 13-member group offered its assessment of what should constitute the common elements so substantial negotiations can begin. In raising the questions, the group hopes to develop a "roadmap" on the same lines of what is being done in Doha farm trade negotiations.

In a separate meeting with the chair, a group of developing countries led by India, Brazil and South Africa insisted that movement in the NAMA negotiations must be based on the outcome in Doha farm trade negotiations for a NAMA work program to address all the key issues in a systematic manner, trade diplomats said. The group, for instance, wants work on modalities in nontariff barriers completed quickly in order to catch up with the accelerating agriculture negotiations, trade diplomats said.

As consultations began on Monday, the "Friends of Ambition" indicated some convergence on a Swiss formula but have yet to decide whether there should be only two coefficients in the tariff-cutting formula one for industrialized countries and one for developing countries.

On the role of unbound tariffs in the negotiations, the "Friends" cited progress during the WTO Hong Kong ministerial in December by adopting a non-linear "mark-up" approach to establish base rates for currently unbound tariff lines. The issue is how members can converge on the determination of the value of the mark-up for lowering unbound tariffs.

On "paragraph eight" flexibilities for developing countries, the "Friends" group suggested that parameters should be reached based on the July 2004 framework agreement.

The "Friends" also queried what needs to be done on product coverage before reaching full negotiating modalities.

Sectorals

On sectoral tariff elimination, the "Friends" suggested that efforts should be made to integrate viable sectors and "flexibilities" with the overall work in the NAMA negotiations. The "Friends" also sought to know how members should move ahead on several sectoral initiatives identifying those that could garner sufficient participation and whether there are other sectors ripe for negotiations. Sectoral tariff arrangements already suggested include chemicals, electrical and electronics, gems and jewelry, forest products, bicycles and sporting equipment, fish and fishery products and textiles and footwear.

Chairman Stephenson intends to issue an outline of a work program soon.

Recently, a group of 10 countries including the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India, Australia, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Egypt and Norway have agreed to carry out a simulation based on a "Swiss" formula using applied tariffs for 2005 with four coefficients 2, 5, 10, 15 for developed countries and six 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 for developing countries. The United States is expected to complete the simulation by the end of the month.


Lori M. Wallach
Director
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
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