Original Publication Date: 
31 January, 2007

Geneva - World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy yesterday called on members to resume the suspended Doha Development Agenda trade negotiations fully across the whole spectrum by combining both the multilateral process as well as discreet and bilateral meetings among key players (WTD, 1/31/07).

At an informal trade negotiations committee session the Director General said propitious political conditions that exist now will enable members to conclude the five-year-old negotiations. He expressed optimism that renewed political impetus along with heightened dialogue among members at various levels will pave the way for possible areas of convergence on all difficult issues.

The Director General stressed the importance of building on the numerous bilateral contacts over the past few months, telling envoys that while it is important they continue over the coming weeks, I also believe that we need more clarity ... as to the direction they are going both in terms of substance and of process, especially timing. Commenting on the nature of the ongoing dialogues among the key members - the United States, the European Union, India and Brazil - he said he detected a new discussion on the relationship between the trade-distorting domestic support number and the product-specific elements and disciplines in trade distorting supports. Mr. Lamy informed members that there are new and fairly creative ideas being explored for product-specific disciplines.

On Tuesday US Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters that Washington is committed to lowering its farm spending, but added much will depend on how sensitive products and special products are addressed in the market access pillar.

Regarding the market access pillar, the Director General said members are now taking a slightly broader view of the relationship between the formula and the actual flexibilities - for sensitive products in particular.
In the meeting, Mr. Lamy suggested much work is yet to be done on special products and the special safeguard mechanism for developing countries. Those two aspects of the talks are being spearheaded by the Group-of-33 countries, led by Indonesia and India.

Mr. Lamy urged members not to let the Doha services talks lag behind agriculture and nonagricultural market access. He asked members to be more precise about the form and content of progress they are willing to make. He underscored the need for members to get a sense of direction on timing towards submission of revised offers.

On parallel rules negotiations, Mr. Lamy said intense negotiations on antidumping, subsidies and fisheries should enable negotiations chair Guillermo Valles Galmes to develop a basis to present a consolidated text.
At yesterdays informal session, the United States said the outcome in market access for farm, industrial goods and services within the next three months is crucial to securing extension of Presidential trade negotiating authority from Congress, WTD was told (see related report this issue).

Tanzania, Venezuela and Cuba - among others - stressed the need for more transparency and inclusiveness in the informal contacts among the key players.

In London

Meanwhile, in London yesterday USTR Schwab and the Indian trade minister Kamal Nath touched bases on almost all the crucial issues necessary to settle the long-delayed negotiating round. WTD was told that they outlined what each can deliver and what is politically difficult to agree at this juncture. The two sides did not get into specific numbers of overall trade-distorting domestic support and its linkage with the accompanying disciplines for product-specific caps or the treatment of special products and triggers for the special safeguard mechanism.

The meeting, however, was characterized as one of good atmospherics.

The two ministers agreed to do more technical work and revert to another round of senior officials meeting next month.

The United States - which is heading up the friends of ambition in the NAMA negotiations - wants a coefficient of 15" in the Swiss formula for developing countries with tight flexibilities that will generate additional trade flows. India wants to stick by the principle of less-than-full reciprocity for developing countries to undertake lesser reduction commitments. New Delhi thinks the coefficient for developing countries should be well above 30" under that criteria.

The two sides also discussed services, sources told WTD.