Nama-11 seeks more tariff cuts from rich nations

New Delhi, March 26 | Updated: Mar 27 2006, 05:30am hrs
The fight on pruning industrial tariffs at the World Trade Organisation has become more fierce with a group of developing countries (Nama-11), including India, demanding that developed countries should respect the principles of less than full reciprocity and special & differential treatment and make greater cuts than developing countries.

In a recent submission made to the WTO negotiating group on non-agricultural market access (Nama), the Nama-11 has asked for elimination of tariff peaks, high tariffs and tariff escalation in developed countries and enough policy space to advance the industrial development of developing countries.

The group includes Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia and Venezuela.

Recently, developed countries, including the EU and the US, have been making a lot of noise about the need for developing countries to take on ambitious commitments in industrial goods. Their argument is that since developed countries had promised to liberalise agriculture, it is now the turn of developing countries to reciprocate in industrial goods and services.

The submission said that the Nama-11 is willing to reduce their tariffs proportionately on the basis of less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments so that their concessions are commensurate with their level of industrial development. This approach is consistent with historical practice of the GATT, the mandate of the on-going Doha round and the recent declaration by ministers in Hong Kong.

Bridging The Gap

Nama-11 has asked for elimination of tariff peaks, high tariffs and tariff escalation in developed countries
According to WTO trade report 2005, the US, the EU and Japan have tariff peaks on 886, 686 and 1,285 tariff lines respectively

We argue further that the principle of less than full reciprocity means that developing countries should undertake lesser percentage reductions in their tariffs as compared to that by the developed countries," it said.

The group added that given the low tariff average in developed countries, enhanced market access can only be achieved through the elimination of tariff peaks, high tariffs and protection for intermediate or value-added goods granted through the medium of tariff escalation.

According to WTO trade report 2005, the US, the EU and Japan have tariff peaks on 886, 686 and 1,285 tariff lines respectively, with maximum tariff as high as 58.2%, 26% and 191.2%.

The paper pointed out that during both the Tokyo and the Uruguay round, effective cuts in favour of products from developing countries into developed country markets was less than their overall average cuts. The Nama-11 demanded that in the Doha round, the trend should be reversed.