G4 meet next week to end WTO deadlock

New Delhi, Nov 17 | Updated: Nov 18 2005, 06:05am hrs
In a bid to break the present stalemate in talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the G-4 countries, which includes India, Brazil, the EU and the US, are likely to meet in Geneva next week.

Speaking to FE, ministry officials said that while a date has not yet been finalised, ministers from the four countries are trying to work out a meeting on November 22. "A meeting of the G-4 is needed urgently as a lot of issues need to be sorted out," an official said.

With the Hong Kong ministerial less than a month away, there is an urgency among members to reduce existing differences to some extent. While members have given up hopes of agreeing on modalities for tariff and subsidy reductions in Hong Kong, sources say that the focus would be now put on agreeing on a range of numbers. "The range could be the basis for arriving at exact numbers at a later stage," sources said.

The on-going negotiations are stuck on all fronts. In agriculture, members have not been able to agree on anything, be it the tariff reduction formula, special products, subsidy reduction or special safe-guard mechanism for developing countries.

While the US has stated that it will not take on additional commitments in subsidy reduction till the EU agrees to higher tariff cuts, the EU has stuck to its demand of not agreeing on higher tariff cuts till the US reduced its farm subsidies.

Similarly, in the area of non-agriculture market access (Nama) for non-agricultural products, members have not been able to reach an agreement on the formula to reduce tariffs and special & differential treatment for developing countries.

While the EU and the US respectively want one and two reduction coefficients in the tariff reduction formula, developing countries feel that it will result in a disproportionately greater reduction burden on developing countries that have relatively high tariff rates. The Argentina, Brazil, India (ABI) formula has stated that tariff reduction should be based on average tariffs of members.

In services, too, there has been no agreement on any mode of supply or the need to have a complementary approach to accelerate the pace of talks.