US will deny S&D for China and India, no DDA after Nairobi

Original Publication Date: 
5 October, 2015

Third World Network
Published in SUNS #8103 dated  1 October 2015


Geneva, 30 Sep (D. Ravi Kanth) -- The United States intends to pursue, after the Nairobi WTO Ministerial Conference, an aggressive trade strategy by forcing "differentiation" to deny special and differential treatment for China and India at the World Trade Organization (WTO), several people familiar with the development told the SUNS.

The US has made it clear that it will bring about "differentiation" ignoring any "objective criteria," but adopt a "subjective" basis of its own, regardless of the norms applied by the United Nations to classify countries as developed, developing, and least-developed.

At a closed-door meeting of trade envoys from the US, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, Australia, and Japan, and the WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo, the US trade envoy Ambassador Michael Punke has apparently made it unambiguously clear that Washington will not only pursue differentiation in the post-Nairobi phase, but will also not allow the Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations to spill over into 2016, according to people familiar with the meeting.

India and China firmly rejected the US pronouncements, and said they will not allow undermining the S&DT architecture without an objective criterion.

India, China, and Brazil also made it clear that the Doha Round will continue until all unresolved issues are comprehensively addressed after the Nairobi meeting beginning on December 15.

During a stormy meeting where the discussions centred around the "small package" for Nairobi proposed by the United States, Japan and Australia, the post-Nairobi roadmap over the fate of unresolved issues of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), and the issue of differentiation, the US adopted aggressive postures on how it intends to realize its goals.

On the issue of the small package, which includes the export competition pillar in the Doha agriculture package, LDC issues, and transparency, the Indian envoy Ambassador Anjali Prasad made it clear that she has no mandate to pursue a small package without credible and comprehensive outcomes at the Nairobi meeting, according to people familiar with the meeting.

India also made it clear that New Delhi wants a clear "reaffirmation" for continuing the Doha Round until all unresolved issues are addressed.

India sought to know what is there for developing countries, including India, in the small package being pushed by the US, Japan, Australia, and the EU, and why the proponents are not coming forward with proposals on the export competition.

In a proponent-driven organization, asked India, why are the proponents not tabling their proposals, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The EU which has earlier called for a comprehensive package as well as the 2008 revised draft modalities to be the basis for outcomes in the export competition, has suggested that it is ready to consider an adjusted revised draft modality for export subsidies, export credits, food aid, and state trading enterprises.

The US said categorically that "we will put nothing on the table and we don't want anything from the negotiations" on export competition, according to people aware of the meeting.

Effectively, the US, which is pushing for the small package based on export competition, doesn't want to put any proposal of its own on the table for discussion among the larger membership.

On the need for an explicit statement for continuing the Doha trade negotiations, despite the small package of issues they have proposed involving cherry-picking, the US, the EU, Japan and Australia insisted they will not accept any reaffirmation of the Doha negotiations in the post-Nairobi phase.

Australia threatened to walk out of the meeting if any proposal on the reaffirmation to continue the Doha negotiations is considered, while the US stated that there should be "zero illusion" on any explicit statement for continuing the negotiations to address the unresolved issues.

The US said it is willing to discuss agriculture and NAMA outside the DDA after members return from the Nairobi meeting in January 2016.

Brazil said it would need certainty about the post-Nairobi roadmap, particularly a statement at Nairobi that it is not the end of the Doha Round.

China said post-Nairobi is an ongoing process of the Doha negotiations and the Round will go on until there is consensus among all members to terminate the DDA negotiations.

Faced with unbridgeable differences among the seven countries over the post-Bali roadmap on unresolved issues of the Doha agenda, Director-General Azevedo said the best option is not to pronounce that the Doha Round will continue or die in the final statement, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The DG's statement at the G-7 meeting revealed his stratagem to bury the Doha Round quietly at the Nairobi meeting, according to an African trade envoy.

Azevedo's conduct as Director-General came under criticism at the WTO's Public Forum when Biraj Patnaik of the Right to Food coalition in India pointed a finger at him in accomplishing the Trade Facilitation Agreement for developed countries but not doing anything for developing countries on public stockholding programs for food security.

Patnaik asked: "When can we hope to see the same level of political will from you in resolving the public stockholding issue as you had shown, while pushing for the Trade Facilitation Agreement? And I ask this because there is a strong perception, and while perception may not always be reality, it is always reputation - that the DG is batting for the United States and the developed countries rather than helping resolve the issues that are affecting hundreds of millions of poor and marginal farmers not just in India but across the developing world including Africa and Latin America."

Azevedo seemed rattled by the question and responded by saying that "the D-G can only do so much; it's the members (who have to act). And those who are not part of our world know that it's member-driven. When people talk about Trade Facilitation being for developed countries, that's baloney, it's good for everyone. It was adopted by consensus. So we can't say it was imposed on members. The only reason we were able to conclude the Bali package was that the developing countries were pushing for it big-time. There are other issues, we had a very important agreement on Food Security. It was very difficult. I was not pushing for A, B, or C. The moment I am seen as pushing for one side or another I'm dead. Because the members won't trust me."

Despite his public pronouncements, Azevedo's conduct at the closed-door meetings such as the G-7 meeting on Monday clearly exposed his intentions to place the Doha Round in a state of permanent coma and not bother about its existence, according to an African trade envoy. +