In a scenario more reminiscent of the bad old days of the pre-WTO trading system, of very restricted "green room" meetings, where a few developing countries are sought to be isolated and pressured to force down an accord on the membership, the WTO DG Mr. Roberto Azevedo has been apparently having closed-door meetings with trade envoys from the United States, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, Australia, and Japan.
A meeting of the WTO Committee on the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) on 8 May heard a number of participants calling for the rapid conclusion of the negotiations on the expansion of product coverage under the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). There was no agreement, and the next meeting of the Committee is set for October 2015.
An informal meeting of the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services on 7 May showed continuing differences among members, with key developing countries making clear that progress on agriculture and the US-EU concessions therein will be the yardstick for progress in other areas of the Doha negotiations.
A large majority of developing countries on Thursday (7 May) firmly rejected demands from the United States, the European Union, and other developed countries for binding the autonomous liberalisation measures taken by them in the services sectors after the Uruguay Round of commitments.
The developing countries made clear that they are not willing to undertake "commitments for free" in the Doha services negotiations, several services negotiators told SUNS.
In this interview, Deborah James of OWINFS spoke about the ongoing tussle in the WTO around the question of food security. This debate is germane to India, whose government played a role at the last WTO meeting.
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has called on WTO members to move forward on implementing the Bali Ministerial Decision of 7 December 2013 on preferential rules of origin for the LDCs. This call came at a meeting of the WTO Committee on Rules of Origin (CRO) on 30 April.
The WTO Director-General, Mr. Roberto Azevedo, appears to have attempted Tuesday (5 May) to tweak the Doha trade talks by dumping the "sequencing" framework, thus enabling the US to avoid answering tough questions on domestic support in agriculture for concluding the negotiations and ensuring a successful Nairobi Ministerial Conference.
A large majority of developing and least-developed countries at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have demanded that the Annex C of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration must remain the basis for drawing-up the post-Bali work programme on services, according to trade envoys familiar with the non-attributable summary issued by the chair of the Doha services negotiations on 27 April.
A large majority of developing countries appear to have disapproved of the "re-calibration" strategy in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, being promoted by the WTO head, Roberto Azevedo, and the industrialised countries, that will change the existing goalposts of the talks, to the detriment of its "development goals".
The Doha trade talks and efforts to reach an accord on a post-Bali work programme are stuck on agriculture issues of domestic support and market access, with members standing firm on their positions and are a "long way" to meet the July deadline, the Chair of the agriculture negotiations said on 24 April.
In the background of informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee convened for 27 April Chakravarthi Raghavan argues that the large majority of developing countries hope WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo will come clean on what he intends to do with the previous mandates on the Doha Round talks, and whether in fact he intends to dump them as the US wants, and drastically change the special and differential treatment provisions in agriculture for developing countries in order to open their markets to heavily subsidised agri-exports of the US.
Members of the G-33 farm coalition, seeking better terms for low-income and subsistence farmers in the developing countries, have severely criticised attempts to deny the special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for curbing the unforeseen surges in imports of agricultural products from heavily subsidised beneficiaries of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) under the Marrakesh Treaty negotiated during the Uruguay Round.
An informal meeting of the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services on Monday (20 April), amongst others, heard proposals from some Members on defining the services component of the post-Bali work programme on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues. Members also agreed that the services component of the work programme should include market access and rule-making for services trade, with the market access negotiations needing to move in parallel with the rule- making part of the services agenda.
As the technical experts and negotiators engaged in the controversial plurilateral initiative on Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) prepare a report on their overall progress during the last three years, it has emerged that there will be sharp "asymmetries" in the levels of ambition in different services sectors, according to several members familiar with the negotiations. In this brief D Ravi Kanth provides an overview of levels of ambition in current TISA negotiations,
Towards 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December 2015, Chakravarthi Raghavan provides detailed analysis of critical issues faced by developing countries at the WTO to ensure a permanent solution to food security issues and translate into binding commitments the 'best endeavour' decisions of the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference.
According to trade officials, at the regular meeting of the Council for Trade in Services on 18 March, the LDCs, in their presentation, assessed the high-level meeting that was held on 5 February, in which number of developed country members and developing country members in a position to do so had indicated the services sectors and modes of supply where they intend to provide preferential treatment to the LDCs.
The proposal, reportedly tabled by the government of Turkey, was discussed by EU member states last September at the Geneva TISA negotiations. It suggests an annex on health care services in the TISA that would promote offshoring by facilitating patients’ travel abroad to access health services.
Based on a set of leaked US TISA proposal, Prof. Jane Kelsey argues that '‘the US is demanding that New Zealand and other countries accept sweeping rules that would override privacy protections for digitised personal and other data’'
Indian farmers organizations and civil society groups expressed serious concern over India - US agreement over public stockholding issue at the WTO negotiation. In a letter to commerce minister they argued that Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) needs to be rejected not only as a strategy but on its own lack of merit.
In the backdrop of agreement between India and US on public stockholdings for food security purposes this Global civil society letter highlights that the current solution is inadequate and calls upon WTO members to ensure that developing countries’ and LDCs’ interests are not sacrificed in the current negotiations and at the special General Council meeting on 26 November 2014 in order to clear the path for the TFA.