Dilution of ambition for HK meet can impede progress

New Delhi, July 31 | Updated: Aug 1 2005, 06:24am hrs
The World Trade Organisations (WTO) trade negotiations committee (TNC) has warned that any dilution in the level of ambition for the Hong Kong ministerial meet could put in question not only the chances of finishing the on-going round in the near future but also the substantive value of the round.

Following the failure of members to arrive at an approximation (outline) of the outcome of the Hong Kong ministerial (scheduled in December 2005) before the August break, the TNC report said that it is essential that the work be tightly focused on resolving key problems which can unlock progress, and that it be organised in a coherent, flexible and effective way.

The WTO secretariat wants the Doha development round launched in November 2001 to be concluded by the end of 2006. The Hong Kong ministerial is being seen as the milestone which would decide whether the deadline could be adhered to.

The TNC chairman, in his report, identified some key issues which need to be resolved urgently in the area of agriculture, services and special & differential treatment (S&DT).

In agriculture, the urgent need is for convergence on key elements of the structure of the tiered formula for tariff reductions. Progress here would unlock the negotiation on many other issues of vital concern to the members related to market access, he said. Progress is also necessary on the issue of blue box criteria for subsidies and in review and clarification of the green box criteria.

Ambitious Policies
Trade negotiation panel chief identifies agriculture services and S&DT as key issues
Progress is necessary on issue of blue box criteria for sops and in review and clarification of green box criteria
With not much progress taking place in the services negotiations so far, the TNC suggested that members should focus on means of intensifying the request-offer process and explore the use of complementary approaches as proposed by members within the parameters of the GATS (general agreement on trade in services) and the negotiating guidelines.

For S&DT, the report stated that members needed to ensure that progress is made on all the remaining agreement-specific proposals, especially the LDC (least developed countries) proposals, and that in that context to effectively address the issues of increased flexibility, market access and capacity building for developing countires and LDCs.