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WTO Doha Round: EU ready to go the extra mile

WTO Doha Round: EU ready to go the extra mile in three key areas of the talks

In order to inject new momentum into the WTO talks under the Doha Development Agenda, Commissioners Pascal Lamy and Franz Fischler have sent a letter to their WTO counterparts. In the letter the EU outlines three areas where it is ready to make further movement to contribute to the talks:

1) the EU is ready to put on the table all export subsidies, provided the EU gets full parallelism and a balanced overall package on agriculture, 2) new flexibility on Singapore issues and 3) a package on concessions for the poorest and weakest WTO members (essentially G-90). The EU calls on other WTO members to match this level of ambition so that the Doha Round can make real progress in July, by agreeing to modalities for the rest of the negotiations.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: ¡§The Doha Round is at the heart of the EU trade policy. With today¡¦s move we show we are ready to go the extra mile to ensure we conclude 50% of the round by 2004. But if we are to succeed, we cannot do it alone. All WTO Members developed and developing alike have to translate general expressions of political commitment into concrete movement on the substance if we want to get an agreement on modalities by July.¡¨

"This bold initiative proves that our commitment to the Doha Round is more than words. Agriculture is key to its success, so we are ready to show flexibility. Provided we get a balanced deal on market access, domestic support and non-trade concerns and strict parallelism on export competition, we are ready to put all the export subsidies on the table. This means that our American, Australian or Canadian partners have to make clear that they will fully match the EU on the forms of export support they use, such as export credits, abuse of food aid or state trading enterprises", Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries said.

A bolder move to achieve a balanced agreement on agriculture: tackling all forms of export support There needs to be movement by all WTO partners on all three pillars, export support, domestic support and market access if we are to achieve a balanced outcome on agriculture. It is clear that the objective of eliminating all forms of export subisidisation is one which is shared by the great majority of participants. Before Cancun, the EU already offered to eliminate export subsidies on a list of products of interest to developing countries, and we subsequently made clear that there would be no a priori exclusions, so all our export subsidies are effectively on the table. However, the list approach has not worked.

This is why the EU has taken the decision to be ready to move on export subsidies, if an acceptable outcome emerges on market access and domestic support and non-trade concerns, and if we get strict parallelism for all forms of export subsidisation in return. The EU is also ready to play its part on domestic support, as shown by the recent reforms of the EU agricultural policy. The EU proposes a very substantial cut in trade-distorting subsidies, the elimination of the de minimis loophole support for developed countries, new rules which would prevent subsidising countries from transferring subsidies between and within boxes and greater transparency. The EU also needs a clear commitment that non-trade distorting green box subsidies remain free of restrictions. It is now up to other big subsidisers of agriculture, notably the US to show ambition and courage and follow the EU¡¦s lead. On market access, the EU believes that tariff cuts on agricultural products can be achieved by means of a formula with a blend of sharp tariff cuts but at the same time providing for flexibility and balance to address sensitivities of the EU and especially of developing countries. The EU also proposes early action on cotton, a vital commodity for many developing countries. Specifically, the EU proposes the elimination of all forms of export support, free and unfettered market access and to significantly reduce and if possible eliminate the most trade distorting domestic subsidies. The EU¡¦s recent reform is a clear indication of our commitment to such an approach.

A simpler approach to Singapore issues The EU has already indicated its readiness to treat each of the four Singapore issues on its own merits, ie to keep within the Doha Agenda only those for which there is consensus to launch negotiations within the WTO. Today there seems to be a clear readiness to launch negotiations on trade facilitation. There is clearly no consensus to launch negotiations on investment and competition. The picture is less clear on transparency in public procurement, but the EU is ready to join the consensus view on this either way.

Further moves in favour of poorest and weakest developing countries (G-90): a round for free The EU also proposes a special deal for the poorest (least developed) and weakest WTO countries ¡V essentially the so-called G-90 group (an alliance of Least Developed countries and African, Caribbean and Pacific states). These countries would not be called upon to further open their markets while they would benefit from improved access to developed and rich developing markets for their agricultural and industrial products. Under the proposed plan vulnerable economies would benefit from improved access to all other markets, including the richer developing countries, which would compensate them for the erosion of the preferences that G-90 countries enjoy in certain developed countries, notably the EU.

In addition to providing movement on these three issues, the letter also:

„Fƒnreiterates a call for a substantial cut in tariffs on trade in industrial products, according to a general and simple formula with a limited set of exceptions. „Fƒnurges other WTO members to help the EU to move forward the negotiations to open trade in services, which are currently stalled. More and better offers are needed.

© Scoop Media

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