Second Grosser text

The pro­posed basis for agree­ment on the key top­ic of Agri­cul­ture has been distributed—at the very last moment (Fri­day morn­ing in Gene­va). Ambas­sador Grosser’s sec­ond attempt is more vague on mar­ket access and on the manip­u­la­tion of the ‘blue box’ of domes­tic sup­ports. But it now has greater­sym­me­try between the dero­ga­tions avail­able to indus­tri­al­ized and devel­op­ing coun­tries from the basic oblig­a­tion to achieve ‘sub­stan­tial reduc­tions’ in mar­ket access bar­ri­ers. ‘Sen­si­tive products’—the cop-out cat­e­go­ry chiefly for indus­tri­al­ized countries—is no longer defined exten­sive­ly as, poten­tial­ly, all prod­ucts to which a tar­iff-quo­ta applies: there will now be an inte­ger deter­min­ing the scope of ‘sen­si­tive’ tar­iff lines as there will be for the ‘spe­cial’ prod­ucts that devel­op­ing coun­tries, alone, will be able to des­ig­nate. What will be implied by ‘sen­si­tiv­i­ty’ or ‘spe­cial’ prod­ucts will be for future nego­ti­a­tion, save that ‘sub­stan­tial’ tar­iff cuts and some expan­sion of Tar­iff Quo­tas will be required for the sen­si­tive prod­ucts. The gen­er­al tar­iff cuts to apply to all but ‘sen­si­tive’ and ‘spe­cial’ prod­ucts have not been fur­ther char­ac­ter­ized: they will be har­mo­niz­ing and tiered. The pos­si­bil­i­ty of a tar­iff ‘cap’ remains alive. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is no require­ment for TQ expan­sion in addi­tion to tar­iff cuts in any prod­ucts oth­er than the to-be-des­gi­nat­ed ‘sen­si­tive’ prod­ucts. The press (AFP) is report­ing that the pro­pos­al to elim­i­nate the use of export cred­its at terms longer than 180 days is new and an addi­tion­al con­ces­sion by the USA. It’s­not. What does seem to be new is that export cred­its with terms less than 180 days may be ‘non-com­pli­ant’ and sub­ject to elim­i­na­tion by rea­son of inter­est rates or oth­er provisions.

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