Cablegate: Oecd: "Societal Concerns" and Non-Tariff Measures Major

R 061439Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

OCTOBER 16-17, 2008

1. SUMMARY: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development's (OECD) Joint Working Party on Agriculture and
Trade(JWPAT) held its 60th meeting October 16-17, 2008. During the
meeting, there was discussion concerning election of the 2009
Bureau, including the position of Chair. Only one paper on the
agenda was subject to a decision on its declassification, whereas
the others were intended for discussion by or as information for the
delegates. The paper on "Societal Concerns" was discussed for
declassification; however, based on several Members' concerns
(including the US and France) regarding the quality of the paper, it
was not approved for declassification. The JWP also discussed two
papers on non-tariff measures (NTMs) in agro-food trade. These were
used as a basis to table a room document requesting Members to
review possible case studies that would utilize the suggested
analysis framework. Other agenda items included an update on the
Doha Development Round and its implications on the JWP's Programme
of Work and Budget (PWB) and papers on maritime trade costs; a case
study of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) regarding the impacts of
animal disease outbreaks and control practices on agricultural
markets and trade; and a paper on extensive margins in agricultural
trade. The U.S. Delegation included Art Coffing/FAS, Susan
Sadocha/FAS, Anne Effland/ERS, Melinda Meador/ US Embassy Paris and
Margaret Hawley-Young/USOECD. END SUMMARY.

2. The October 16-17 meeting of the JWPAT began a discussion of the
2009 Bureau election. Bureau Facilitators Jack McIver (UK) and Eva
Blanco Medio(Spain) explained that the current Chair Fran Freeman
(Australia) has resigned, and that the current Vice-Chair Cornelia
Burns (Germany) could not serve as Chair due to professional
conflicts. The nomination period closed COB October 17. To our
knowledge, there was not much official interest among members in
nominating a Chair; however there were unofficial discussions that
perhaps a Mexican or Dutch candidate would emerge. Additionally,
the US and Canada supported a proposal to expand the Bureau to more
than 2 persons to avoid such a dilemma in the future. While there
was no opposition to the proposal among Members, the Facilitators
indicated that a process to expand the bureau would be considered
and revisited in the future. The Agenda and Summary Record of the
59th Session were adopted.

3. Trade and Trade Policy Implications of Different Policy Responses
to Societal Concerns - This paper was up for declassification,
however due to serious concerns among several members regarding the
quality and objective of the paper, members did not agree to
declassification. (Note that previous versions of this paper were
discussed and heavily criticized at the January and November 2007
JWPAT meetings.) The US strongly opposed declassification pointing
out that the paper was poorly written, lacked focus and clarity of
the issue, and included technical errors. The U.S. proposed that
the planned 2009 November workshop on societal concerns could seek
to provide clarification of the issue and help identify those areas
of consensus among members. Canada also criticized the paper along
the same grounds, as well as in being too prescriptive, while
Germany pointed out that the paper had some legal inaccuracies.
France also had major problems with the paper suggesting that
further work needs to be done before declassification. Those in
support of declassification included the European Commission,
Switzerland, Norway, Mexico and the Netherlands. The Secretariat
tried to address the questions of the paper's focus and objective by
stating that the author was trying to compartmentalize societal
concerns in relation to trade by pointing out those "societal
concerns" that are dealt with under the TBT and SPS Agreements, and
by doing so help to identify the "sensitive" issues, such as GMO's
and animal welfare, where no consensus exists in order to foster
dialogue among members in a setting such as the November 2009
workshop. Canada proposed that the paper may be improved if it
included a paragraph on its objective. As there was clear
contention among the members on how to proceed, the Secretariat
proposed that members provide written comments by November 20. The
paper will then be revised to reflect as much as possible the
members' views and be presented for written declassification and/or
discussed at the May 2009 JWPAT. The Secretariat pointed out that
in the event that members still cannot agree, given budgetary and
staff constraints, future work on the paper will be terminated.

4. Cost-Benefit Framework of Non-Tariff Measures and Data - Two
papers were up for discussion at the JWPAT. (Note that a scoping
paper on this topic was discussed at the November 2007 JWPAT.) In
addition, a room document was tabled requesting members' provide
input on proposed NTM case studies using the cost-benefit framework
analysis. While members generally were supportive of the
methodology used in the cost-benefit analysis, several members
expressed serious concern with the dataset used, i.e. TRAINS, in
identifying NTM's. The U.S. also expressed concerns about the
UNCTAD TRAINS data indicating that it has significant inaccuracies
and that UNCTAD probably does not have the capacity to manage it.
The Secretariat acknowledged the concerns over the datasets, i.e.
TRAINS is biased towards those with good notification discipline,
but indicated there is a lack of alternatives.

5. The room document proposes 6 case studies using the cost-benefit
framework type analysis. It includes a review of an NTM on pig meat
filed by the US in 2002. Other cases include restrictions on
cheese, shrimp, fruits and vegetables and cut flowers. Members were
asked to provide comments on the proposals by November 17th.

6. Other Agenda Items: The Secretariat updated its plans for work in
lieu of the evaluation of the Doha agreement. Work will continue on
a symposium to address the future of agriculture in Spring 2009 on
the heels of the COAG, as well as on scenario studies to commence in
Summer 2009. A paper on Maritime Transport Costs was discussed with
the majority of members finding the work useful and interesting.
This study is being done in collaboration with Trade Committee (TC)
work, and seeks to account for costs and their impact on the value,
quantity, composition and destination of traded agricultural goods.
The author will revise the paper based on members' comments and the
paper will be up for declassification at the May 2009 JWPAT.

7. Another paper for discussion was the "Impact of Animal Disease
outbreaks and Control practices on Agricultural Markets and Trade:
the Case of FMD." The paper analyzed the impacts of alternative
control practices in the event of an FMD outbreak. Several members
had comments including Canada, Germany and Australia who indicated
that the assumptions were rather simple and conclusions unclear.
Others, such as France and Denmark, supported the paper commenting
that the study was "reasonable" and "well-organized." Dr. Alex
Thiermann of the OIE attended the session and emphasized the need
for more data in order to detect animal disease outbreaks earlier.
Thiermann commented that he looks forward to future collaboration
with the OECD in this area of work. The Secretariat plans to
declassify the paper after member's comments are taken into

8. The final paper discussed was "Extensive Margins in Agricultural
Trade." Several members were supportive of this work which seeks to
estimate contributions of extensive and intensive margins to overall
agricultural export growth. While the U.S. had some concerns with
the paper's quality, the majority of members were supportive. After
members' comments are taken into consideration, the paper will move
forward for declassification.


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