Supachai pushes for trade meet

New Delhi, Jan 25 | Updated: Jan 26 2005, 05:30am hrs
World Trade Organisation (WTO) director general Supachai Panitchpakdi has called for a meeting of the trade negotiations committee (TNC) early in 2005 to renew efforts for moving forward the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).

In his recent address to African and Nordic ministers, Mr Supachai said that a TNC meet would help members to keep sight of the overall balance in the DDA and to gain an early understanding of objectives for the year, the Hong Kong ministerial conference and beyond.

The DG said that while the success of the meeting in July last year was encouraging, members have to take the task of making the Hong Kong ministerial conference in December 2005 a success seriously.

We need to achieve some serious results before the August summer recess in Geneva. This gives us just under seven months, he said.

He stressed the need for full political involvement of ministers to make progress. We need the help of ministers to focus effectively on key problems and priorities and to make advances in sensitive and difficult areas, he said.

On the issue of the need for balanced results, Mr Supachai said that the DDA was a single undertaking and the current round cannot be concluded unless progress is made across the board.

While a breakthrough in agriculture would unlock the DDA, it was not sufficient and progress also needed to be made in other areas of the negotiations.

In agriculture, Mr Supachai said that while far-reaching commitments were agreed on all three pillars of the negotiations - domestic support, export competition and market access - there remained a number of gaps to be filled and thorny issues to be resolved.

On export competition, despite the important commitment to eliminating export subsidies, there still remained the need to fix an end date.

With respect to domestic support, the DG said that while it was accepted that countries with higher subsidy levels will reduce much more than those with minimal subsidies, the actual level of commitments to be assumed still needed to be carefully negotiated.

On market access, while agreement was reached that reductions would be made through a tiered formula, members still needed to negotiate the actual percentage reductions to be made by developed and developing countries.