WTO “framework” text to be revised

The two parts of the framework text issued by the Trade Negotiations Committee Chair (Ambassador Oshima) last weekend that have attracted the strongest objections are those on Agriculture (drafted by NZ Ambassador Tim Grosser) and on Non-agricultural market access. As he foreshadowed a week ago, Grosser is going to attempt a ‘re-write’ of his text on Wednesday in the light of reactions to his first draft. But there will be time for only one such attempt before the meeting ends this Friday and the Trade Ministers in Geneva return home. The key sticking point, according to “this”:http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=SR4FRYPDJDYAYCRBAEKSFFA?type=reutersEdge&storyID=5788145&pageNumber=0 Reuter’s report seems to be G-20 objections to the “very broad concession”:http://www.petergallagher.com.au/textpattern/index.php?event=article&step=edit&ID=286 made to protection of sensititve[1] products in industrialized countries (EU, USA, Japan). bq. India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told reporters at the WTO the document was “seriously flawed.” EU subsidies were illegal under WTO rules so developing countries “should not have to pay a price for these distortions to be cut.” (“Reuters”:http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=SR4FRYPDJDYAYCRBAEKSFFA?type=reutersEdge&storyID=5788145&pageNumber=0) But this is simply a tactical objection. What the G20—and particularly India—really want is to have the narrower and vaguer provisions on ‘special’ products that Developing countries will be allowed to exempt from market access reforms made as broad and as generous as the current text’s provisions for industrialized countries’ ‘sensitive’ products. The NAMA text—also under attack—takes the negotiations no further than the position they had reached at Cancún last September. My guess it that it would probably be accepted in a ‘package’ that contained an agreed outcome on agriculture. fn1. The current Framework text offers the rich countries a reform ‘cop-out’ clause—not yet fully described — for so-called ‘sensitive’ products that it defines as potentially all products currently protected by a Tariff Quota. That’s at least 1400 product lines world wide, according to the latest WTO data; hundreds of products in countries such as Norway and Switzerland and dozens in both the EU and USA.

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