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EU “Flexibility” Proposal Conflicts with Doha


EU “Flexibility” Proposal Conflicts with Doha Mandate for Agricultural Market Access

Friday October 7, 2005 – The Global Alliance for Liberalized Trade in Food and Agriculture is urging Ministers and Negotiators meeting next week in Zurich and Geneva to reject the “flexibility pivot” for market access proposed by the European Union. Work is urgently needed to develop a more constructive approach that results in “substantial improvements in market access” as mandated by the Doha Declaration on agriculture negotiations.

The EU proposes that flexibility be injected into the tiered tariff reduction formula by allowing smaller tariff cuts for some products while compensating with higher cuts for others. “This is a direct attempt to continue to protect EU products within the tariff reduction formula in addition to the ability to designate other products as sensitive,” said Jenny Burt, Chair of the Consortium for Free Choice in Trade. “This ‘double-dipping’ in protectionism will mean that the EU and other WTO member countries will not really be required to improve access to markets. That is unacceptable.”

The EU’s pivot proposal is particularly ineffective for tariffs in the mid ranges. The minimum cut in the 20% to 50% band is 30%, and 40% in the next band up (tariffs bound at between 50% and 60%). Most EU tariffs lie in these lower bands.

“Tariff cuts in these ranges won’t even get at the ‘water’ between bound and applied tariffs,” said Earl Rattray, Chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand. “The Doha mandate is ‘substantial improvements in market access.’ Cutting the water out of tariffs will not result in any new access at all, and will not serve developed or developing countries in the future.”

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All WTO member countries have committed to the Doha Mandate for agriculture and to the work program built on the mandate in August, 2004. Member/Supporters of the Global Alliance call on all WTO member countries to honour this commitment by agreeing to rules that will result in real and meaningful market access, substantial cuts in trade distorting domestic support, and early elimination of all forms of export subsidies.

The Global Alliance for Liberalized Trade in Food and Agriculture includes 42 organizations in the agriculture and food sectors in 27 countries spanning all five continents. The Global Alliance supports the liberalization of international trade as an instrument of growth and prosperity for the world’s producers, consuming industries and consumers.

For the full statement on which the Global Alliance is founded, as well as a list of supporters, go to or


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