Ag and NAMA Market Access

13 March, 2005
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Ag and NAMA Market Access
Washington Trade Daily
March 14, 2005
Trade Reports International Group

Geneva – Success of even a modest outcome of the market access pillar in the ongoing farm trade negotiations as well as nonagricultural market access will depend largely on the European Union (WTD, 3/8/05).

Agriculture negotiations chairman Tim Groser is understood to have told some trade diplomats last week that the focus for the immediate future will be on two chief issues – eliminating export subsidies and significantly paring down trade-distorting domestic support measures.

But Mr. Groser said there must be a balance between the agricultural and nonagricultural market access negotiations. Once there is satisfactory movement in agricultural market access – when Brussels agrees to a modest outcome – then the major developing countries will have to come forward with substantial nonagricultural access offers, WTD was told. The agriculture chairman also suggested that the next negotiating round – after Doha – will focus squarely on market access in global farm trade as well as South-South trade.

But some EU-country diplomats questioned the chair's formulation, saying that they have already paid in both the agriculture export competition and trade-distorting domestic support pillars – and would likely oppose further movement on market access. Similarly, some developing countries – that have little to gain from agriculture and are now being asked to sharply reduce their industrial tariffs – will question such a balance.

Meanwhile, Mr. Groser will commence a special negotiating session today focusing on the technical aspects of a proposed new "blue box" of farm payments, formulas for gaining reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and ad valorem equivalents.

On Wednesday and Thursday, negotiators will discuss the implementation of export competition elements, tariff escalation, tariff simplification, special agricultural safeguards and geographical indications.