Include special products in modalities: G-33

New Delhi, April 28 | Updated: Apr 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
The G-33 group of countries, which includes India and about 40 other countries with defensive interests in agriculture, has written to World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Pascal Lamy warning him that they would not join a consensus on modalities which does not incorporate the modalities on special products (SPs) and special safeguard measures (SSMs).

Alluding to the EU and the US, the letter said that the G-33 was concerned with the position taken by its negotiating partners, some of whom were even attempting to undermine and diminish not only the Doha mandate on agriculture but also the agreement reached under the July framework and by the ministers in Hong Kong on the issues of SPs and SSMs.

As per the Doha mandate and the Hong Kong declaration, developing country members will have the flexibility to self-designate an appropriate number of tariff lines as SPs guided by indicators based on the criteria of food security, livelihood security and rural development. They will also have the right to have recourse to a SSM based on import quantity and price triggers, with precise arrangements to be further defined.

It was pointed out in the letter that this recognition had encouraged the G-33 to engage constructively in the negotiations, making contributions by presenting concrete, technically sound and balanced proposals on modalities for SPs and SSMs. In our endeavour to move the negotiations forward, the group has shown enormous flexibility, moving away from its long held original positions, it said. It further added that if other members continued to be inflexible in the area of SPs and SSMs, then arriving at an agreement on modalities for negotiating on agriculture would not be possible.

The first post-Hong Kong deadline for agreeing on modalities for agriculture by April 30 is about to be breached and Mr Lamy is hoping that an agreement would be reached before July this year. The G-33 group includes Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, China, Congo, Cote dIvoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Korea, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.