No Narrowing of Differences on NAMA

Original Publication Date: 
7 March, 2006
Geneva - Senior trade officials of an 11 country group yesterday failed to narrow their differences on how to achieve "ambitious" market access opportunities in the Doha Development Agenda industrials negotiations a result that could place this weekend's London trade ministerial summit in jeopardy, WTD was told (see related report this issue).

The meeting was attended by the United States, the European Union, Brazil, India, Australia, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Egypt, Norway and Kenya.

Japan, the United States and the European Union continue to demand tariff cuts from currently applied levels, sources told WTD. During yesterday's discussion, Japan floated two formula coefficients 10 for industrialized countries and 15 for developing countries to realize ambitious market-opening.

But Brazil and India flatly rejected any reduction commitments from applied levels, insisting that the July 2004 Framework requires cuts only from bound levels based on the principle of less-than-full-reciprocity. India said the industrialized countries are even "greedier" in the current Doha round than they were in the Uruguay Round. India said reduction commitments must be balanced proportionately with what is agreed in the agriculture negotiations.

But the industrialized nations repeatedly argued that unless cuts are effected from applied levels they will not be able to satisfy their domestic constituencies for commitments in an agriculture package, sources said.

Canada and Australia urged consideration of excluding some export products of interest to key players. Australia, for instance, spoke of difficulties it would have to face in the textiles sector if currently high tariffs are significantly pared back.

The G-11 agreed in principle to circulate results from a simulation exercise carried out by the United States. They also agreed to abandon two extreme coefficients 2 for industrialized countries and 40 for developing countries. Further, there was some new thinking on flexibilities with a suggestion that export interests of developing countries would substitute for naming import-sensitive sectors.

US Ambassador Peter Allgeier, who chaired the three hour meeting at the US mission, called on negotiators to address market access opportunities along with reductions in high tariffs and the possible elimination of tariff peaks. Negotiators should focus now on the formula and how to apply the less-than-full-reciprocity principle for developing countries. He also spoke of the need to agree on parameters for flexibilities involving longer implementation periods as well as exclusion of certain tariff lines, sources said.